Skip to main content

Full text of "The lost Tasmanian race"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 





T A V 









(A.n. tft87i Wi>* ^^^) 

Received Febxuary 8, 1933 




by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


by Google 

THE LAST OF THE TASMANIAKS. Sampson Low, Manton, and Co. 
I6a, Only a few copies of this work remain for sale. 

*' It ou£^t to be one of the most popular books of the season." — Literary World. 

" Many excellent illustrations are interspersed through its pages, and three 
charming plates are added to give the stranger an idea of Tasmauian scenery." — 
European Mail. 

** . . . The sympathetic feeling and kindliness of tone which the author 
displays towards the friendless aborigine give us that bias in his favour which we 
aUuded to at the commencement of our uotioe."—Atkenmim. 

"There are, indeed, countless traits in the character of these simple islanders, 
as told by our author, to justify the affectionate regret with which he dwells upon 
their extinction."— iS<i<i»rday Review. 

" Mr. Bonwick, long known as a zealous ftnd able advocate of the rights of the 
weaker races of mankind, has narrated the tragical history of the aborigines of 
Tasmuiia . . ." — Colonial Intelligeneer. 

** Well worthy of a place in every library throughout Tasmania."— ITo&are Town 

** It is the story of a race not only subjugated, but demoralized,— not only 
demoralized, but extinguished."— Dotfy Newe. 

" The recital is at once romantic, suggestive, and instructive."— Ifornln^ Poet. 

" . . . He has told his story plainly and forcibly ; so plainly and forcibly that 
many besides himself will find it romantic, affecting, and suggestive."— iSfondord. 

Reduced to 7s. 6d. 

" A more interesting work than even Mr. Bonwick's former book. Mr. Bonwick 
has produced a volume which will have much that will be new for the craniologist. 
The science of language receives in it illustrations from fresh sources."— ii^A«n<euiN. 

" He deserves praise for the spirit in which he has undertaken this work, and the 
breadth of view and industry which characterise iV— North Britieh Review. 

** The * Daily Life of the Tasmanians ' will become popular among all who like 
to hear particulars of the habits and customs of other countries. This is a com- 
panion volume to the author's * Last of the Tasmanians/ a work which was 
deservedly spoken very highly of. "^Public Opinion. 

'* Everything he says on the subject must command universal attention. In 
almost every page of the volume we are astonished at the amoimt of labour and 
knowledge the author has brought to bear on his subject. To the ethnological 
student as well as to the ordinary reader, every page almost is replete with 
interest, and ho has altogether produced a most valuable hook."— European Mail. 

" Both have been highly praised by the dally and weekly press, and with good 
reason. In the latter of these two works, which is illustrated with a variety of 
engravings, he goes into a mass of detaU, much of it exceedingly interesting, that 
leaves nothing more worth knowing to be eaid."— Alliance Newi. 

** Deeply interesting as Mr. Bonwick's elaborate story of extermination has been 
pronoimced, it fairly 3rield8 the palm to Ms account of the habits, the morals, the 
arts, the superstitions of a people whom English civilization has improved off the 
face of the earth. The author is an earnest friend to the doomed race. The 
author's style is fresh, clear, and forcible ; and the twin volumes, with their abun- 
dant research, their careful statements, and their excellent illustrations, constitute 
a history of one of civilization's darker episodes, which did not exist before, and 
need not again be written."— ^PaW;^ Telegraph. 

"Mr. Bonwick is scrupulously careful to state both sides of the question."— 

** He evinces in the composition of his work great local knowledge of his subject, 
and the literary and scientific resource, and philosophical acumen, necessary for 
the exhaustive treatment of so diflftcult a topic."— Qf/a»j;oio Herald. 

"Facts methodically arranged and agreeably represented." — Auetralaeian. 
Co. Zs. 

" The first things he seeks for in particular, are the religious, educational, and 
philanthropia"— i^^ffrory World. 

"The compiler of this really curious work is evidently an enthusiast in all 
matters Australian." — Record. 

" He knows his subject thoroughly from first to last ; he is content to tell what 
he has to say in the simplest and clearest manner."— Jftt«c*«»<<r Courier, 


by Google 


•* All that Mr. Bonwick has written upon colonial history and life in the colonies 
has been of great interest." — Public Opinion. 

" Contain&g a vast amount of information.**— ir««7wa« Methodist Moffotine. 

"A very interesting collection of facts and particulars, relating chiefly to the 
early religious and educational history of several of our Australian colonies."— 
Gla$ffotD Herald. 

" Mr. Bonwick describes with much sympathy the struggles of the press in the 
days of the autocracy of colonial governors.^'— ^/A«n«K«i. 

6*., cloth. 

"To place before the public the young days of a penal settlement."— Co7o«<e« 

" Abounding in matters of interest."— ^itroj>«an Mail. [and India. 

"As a plain, trnvamished tale could hardly be improved."— Jforntn^ Po$t. 

'" He hab rendered good service."— flbof»»a«. 

"Special value for the students of social science."— JfancA«»^ Guardian. 

" He is never more at home than in a work of this kind."— Adelaide Register* 

" So arranged and digested — ^to give us a graphic acco\mt." — Saturday Review. 

*' He does not allow his diligent industry to dull his appreciation of what la 
interesting or life-like."— .4u«froita». 

POET PHILLIP SETTLEMENT. Sampson Low and Co. 21». Many 
fac-simile sketches taken in 1835, fac-similes of letters and early 
newspapers, portraits, colonial drawings of primitive Melbourne, &c. 

" A book which forms a worthy sequel to his previous works, which treat of 
what may be described as the romance of colonization."— Dai ?y Nem: 

"Cannot but receive a kindly welcome — A mine of information— Colonial 
histdry is his hobby, and long may he continue to ride ]X'*— Melbourne Age. 

" Future historians will have every reason to be grateful to Mr. Bonwick for 
having collected, collated, arranged m consecutive order, and printed and pub- 
lished in a narrative form, the documents, drawings, and fac-similes of lettera 
contained in his substantial volume." — Melb)oume Argus. 

"The whole subject is familiar to him, and he makes it interesting."— For* 
. " It is eartiest and tY^moxigh."— Manchester Guardian. {EeraZd. 

"The chapter on the early press is most interesting."— Bri»toi Post, 

" A valuable addition to colonial history." — Glasgow Herald* 

'* Contains a number of curious details."— fifp«cfa<on 

" A complete and most interesting record — possesses great intrinsic merit. The 
author— a kind of Nestor among Australian writers."— Cotonj>« and India. 

ANB WELSH 1 D. fiogue. Bound, 8^. 6(2. 

**A vast amount of information — ethnological, archseological, historical." — 

" Not biassed by political design." — Tablet. [Academy ». 

** Full of interesting matter/' — Edinburgh Daily Review. 

" 6hows wide knowledge and great research."— JVbrtA«r« Whig, 

"Alike thorough and exact."— .W. James's Gazette. 

" Interesting account of ancient Irish land system."— Iri« A Law Times. 

"Packed with authorities."— SottiA Wales Daily News. 

" Most interesting to Scotchmen." — Paisley Express. 

" A good deal of quaint and curious lore.**— Melbourne Argus ^ 

"Valuable guide to a quaint subject."— Bri#6an« Courier^ 

** Vast amount of very condensed research." — Standard. 

" Discusses the theory of the Lost Tribes."— Broad Arrow. 

Trench, and Co. 105. 6d. . Only a few copies remaining. 
PYBAHIB FACTS AND FANCIES. Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co. 3s. 6d. 
HIKE HOWE, THE BXTSHBANGEB. Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co. 5*. 
LILY OF TASMANIA. Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co. 5s. 

Co. l8. 


The other works of Mr. Bonwick:— as ^^ Australian Geography" 
* * Western Victoria" dkc., are out of print. 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

(From Mr. Duterreau's portrait.) 


by Google 




loot)o:n : 


^ 7 ^' ^ 7 


by Google 


\^The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved.] 


by Google 


Another edition "being called for, the Author declined the 
reproduction of the ** Last of the Taemanians," an expensive 
work, and preferred, for the popularization of views favouring 
the claims of Aborigines, to produce, in a simpler form, the 
leading facts of that sad tale of a Colonial Past. Such is 
the narrative given in the ** Lost Tasmanian Eace." 

Of late years, great disturhances have occurred in the 
relations of Whites and Coloured peoples. Zulus, Indians, 
Bechuanas, Malagasy, Annamese, Australians, Pacific Island- 
ers, Egyptians and Soudanese, have tremhled hefore the 
might of European civilization. This has heen a terrible 
period of anxiety to all Coloured nations. 

Are all Dark Skins to perish, like the unhappy Tasman- 
ians, before Europeans] Have we not often heen, in our 
civilizing processes, more savage than the Savages 1 

If the Natural Law of Selection necessitates the destruction 
of inferior races, as History has illustrated thus far, is there 
not in Humanity a Uiglier Zai^, happily better recognized 


by Google 


in our day, which should and could he employed, by moral 
force, to resist this fearfully selfish struggle for existence ] 

Perhaps, in this Colonial record, replies appear to some of 
these deeply interesting inquiries. 

It is, at any rate, hoped that the perusal of these pages 
may raise up a few more friends for poor Aborigines. 

Suttouy Surrey, 

April 17th, 1884. 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 



Eakliest Notices of the Natives 3 • 

The Race under Bkitish Rule 19 


The War 49 

The Line . , , 84 

Capture Parties 109 

Robinson the Conciliator 133 

Flinders Island Refuge * 158 

Oyster Cove Station 177 

sealeb5 and native women 191 

Half-Castes 196 

Native. Rights ,. 204 

Civilization and Missions 205 

Decline and Extinction 210 


by Google 


, WooREDDY, Truoanina's Husband To fOM TUU 

Mother and Child , To face page 10 

Tasmanians and Tasmanian Women .... „ „ 18 

Australian Graves „ „ 49 

Patty and "Wapperty „ „ 109 

Manalaoana „ tt 189 

Lalla Rookh or Truganina „ ,,140 

Robinson on his Conciliatory Mission ... „ „ 14| 

Patty in Oyster Bay Costume „ ,,177 

Bessy Clark „ ,,184 

Walter and his Half-Caste Wife „ „ 1©1 

William Lannb, the Last Man ,, ,, 215 

Digitized by VaOOQlC 




And who were the Tasmanians ? 

When Tasman, the Dutchman, in 1642, was sailing along 
the then unknown Southern Ocean, that restlessly surges 
between Austrah'a and the South Pole, he came upon a 
rocky, wooded island. This he called Van DiemerCs Land, 
since changed to Tasmania, The aboriginal Tasmanians 
believed themselves alone in the world. 

Dark in skin, brilliant in eye, with massive jaw, immense 
teeth, woolly hair, curly beard, bridgeless nose, expanded 
nostril, scarred body, shapely feet, small hand, they wandered 
about in scattered tribes. 

Except in colour, they were unlike their neighbours of 
New Holland, now Australia. In hair, in nose, in limb 
they differed. Both races were wandering hunters, never 
cultivating land, nor taming bird or beast for food supply. 
The chase gave no chance of settled habitation or form of 
government. The wooden pointed spear stayed the kangaroo 
in its leap, and the whirling stick brought down the winged 
fowL The friction of two pieces of wood produced fire, 
whose embers roasted the food. Without houses, without 
culinary utensils, without garments, save the raw skin, they 
had no homes, and needed none. 

The lowest dgwn the depths of barbarism, they were 
neither stupid nor miserable; they were still men and 



b; Google 


women. Left alone those thousands of years, neVer ad- 
vancing heyond the rudest state, they had sense and feelinj?. 
An expansive, and often lofty, forehead betrayed no gorilla 
look. A language with no ordinary grammatical niceties 
and complexities proved their human kind. The merry 
laugh at the evening fire, the ready joke, the boisterous fan, 
the play of mother and child, made the camp a lively scene. 
Their wants were few, and easily supplied. With no regrets 
for past good, and no desire for any future but a fair day's 
sport, the present only gave them care or brought them 
joy. Animal pleasure they sought, and found. If, like their 
changing skies, the sunny smile was quickly followed by 
the gloomy rage, the cloud of anger soon melted in the 
azure of peace. A hasty tumult was raised, and then the 
little tribal gathering raised the song, shook limb in mazy 
dance, and stirred the forest echoes in a shout of merriment. 

If wanting little for the body, they craved less for the 
soul. With no gods, no form of worship, their vague fears 
were due only to the wild, dread voices of storm and dark- 
ness. The terrible, because unknown, laws of the universe 
would at times plough up the fallow ground of their sterile 
souls ; but there was no sower to drop a seed of spiritual 
truth into the gaping furrow. Of the earth earthy, infants 
of humanity, not even strugglers for the light, content with 
one day's food and gladness, so they lived, so had their fathers 

Another wanderer came, and another claimant for the 
bounding kangaroo. The Native saw a man, like himself, 
but white in skin, clothed, and armed with thunder stolen 
from the skies. The intruder brought mistrust and gloom 
into those sweet vales and moonlit glades, so long owned 
by the dark race in careless glee. Henceforth the scene is 
changed ; the men and women £nd another heaven spread 
over them. 

To tell the tale of sorrows flowing from this {irrival, and 
how the war between the weak and strong brought all-pre- 
vailii^g power to one, but dire extinction to the other, is the 
object of this present book. 


by Google 



The discoverer of the island, Abel Jansen Tasman, never 
saw the original inhabitants. He detected notches in trees 
by which they ^ascended after birds* nest«, as he supposed, 
after opossums, as we know. He did observe smoke, and 
heard the noise as of a trumpet. Satisfied with hoisting 
the Dutch flag, he passed on to the discovery of New 

A Frenchman, Captain Marion, held the first intercourse 
with the wild men of the woods. This was in 1772, being 
140 years after Tasman's call. Kienzi, the historian, speaks 
of the kind reception of his countrymen by the Natives, 
whose children and women were present to greet the strangers. 
But bloodshed followed the greeting. This is the account : — 

" About an hour after the French landed. Captain Marion 
landed. Advancing in front of him, one of the Aborigines 
offered him a lighted firebrand, that he might set light to a 
heap of wood heaped up on the flat shore. Marion took it, 
believing that it was a formality intended to give confidence 
to the savages ; but hardly had the little pile of wood been 
enflamed, when the Aborigines retired in mass toward a 
little height, from which they threw afterwards a volley of 
stones which wounded the two captains. They (the French) 
repelled them by several discharges of musket. They 
killed one aborigine and wounded several others, and the 
others fled howling towards the woods." 

From another historian of the voyage we learn othOT 
particulars. A party of thirty Natives came down, the 
women carrying their cliildren behind their backs, fastened 
on with ropes of rushes. The men were said to be carrying 
pointed sticks (spears) and stone axes. Presents of pieces of 
iron, looking-glasses, handkerchiefs, &c., were laid before them, 
but were rejected with sulky disdain. Some ducks and geese 
were tendered, but were angrily thrown back again. The 
fire-stick was presented to a sailor first, and afterwards to 
the captain. But evidently the act, supposed to be friendly, 
was taken in another spirit. They might have regarded it 
as a proof that the strangers intended an establishment upon 
their own hunting-grounds. The historian adds: '^This 

• B 2 


by Google 


was no sooner done, than they retired precipitately to a 
small hill, and threw a shower of stones, hy which Captain 
Marion and the commander of the Castries were both 
wounded." Shots, of course, replied to the stones, and the 
Frenchmen returned to their boats. Sending their women 
backward to the covert of the forest, the wild men ran along 
the shore after their foes. The sailors put back towards the 
land to arrest the pursuit. At this moment an old chief 
assumed the leadership, and raised a hideous war-cry, when 
a storm of spears answered to his call. Fifteen Frenchmen 
now chased the assailants, and by their destructive fire killed 
and wounded several of them. 

The unfortunate Marion met with his death in New 
Zealand. Though a French author describes his country- 
men as being fattened for thirty-two days, to be eaten on 
the thirty-third, yet it is known that the New Zealanders 
treated them well till they polluted their sacred places, 
cooked food with tapued wood, and put two chiefs in irons. 
May they not have conducted themselves as ill in Tasmania, 
so as to incur the displeasure of the Natives, and neglected 
to note the circumstance in their journal ? 

Captain Furneaux preceded Captain Cook there nearly 
four years, but storms drove him off the island. Captain 
Cook, in the Adventure^ \T17, saw much of the race on Bruni 
Isle, and left this record of his observations : — " They were 
quite naked, and wore no ornaments, unless we consider as 
such some large punctures in different parts of their bodies, 
some in straight, and others in curved lines. The men were 
of the middle stature, but rather slender. Their skin and 
hair were black, and the latter as woolly as that of any 
native of Guinea ; but they were not distinguished by re- 
markably thick lips, nor flat noses. On the contrary, their 
features were far from being disagreeable. They had pretty 
good eyes, and their teeth were tolerably even, but very 
dirty. Most of them had their hair and beards smeared 
with a red ointment, and some had also their faces painted 
with the same composition. When some bread was offered 
them, as soon as they understood it was to be eaten, they 
either returned or threw it away, without tasting it." 

A couple of pigs were brought ashore to turn adiift ; but 
the Natives seized them by the ears and carried them off. 


by Google 


doubtless to eat them. A musket was fired, when the party 
fled in great dismay. But one little girl returned, and 
brought several females with her. Of these it'was remarked 
that they **wore a kangaroo skin fastened over their 
shoulders, the only use for which seemed to be to support 
their children on their backs, for it left those parts un- 
covered which modesty directs us to conceal. Their bodies 
were black, and marked with scars like those of the men ; 
from whom, however, they differed, in having their heads 
shaved — some of them being completely shorn, others only 
on one side, while the rest of them had the upper part of 
their heads shaved, leaving a very narrow circle of hair all 
round. They were far from being handsome ; however, some 
of our gentlemen paid their addresses to them, but without 
effect. That the gallantry of some of our people was not 
very agreeable to the men is cei-tain ; for an elderly man, as 
soon as he observed it, ordered the women and children to 
retire, which they all did, but some with a little reluctance." 

Cook was surprised at their indifference to presents, and 
disregard of iron, fish-hooks, &c. They lived " like beasts 
of the forest, in roving parties, without arts of any kind, 
sleeping in summer like dogs, under the hollow sides of 
trees, or in the wattled huts made with the low branches of 
evergreen shrubs, stuck in the ground at small distances 
from each other, and meeting together at the top." 

The navigator was struck with the superior virtue of the 
Tasmanian women over the more polished Polynesians. His 
remarks upon the conduct of Europeans towards savage 
women are worthy of citation here. He describes it as 
** highly blamable, as it creates a jealousy in their men, 
that may be attended with consequences fatal to the success 
of the common enterprise, and to the whole body of adven- 
turers, without advancing the private purpose of the indi- 
vidual, or enabling him to gain the object of his wishes. I 
believe it has been generally found among uncivilized people, 
that where the women are easy of access, the men are the 
first to offer them to strangers ; and that where this is not 
the case, neither the allurements of presents, nor the oppor- 
tunity of privacy, will be likely to have the desired effect. 
This observation will, I am sure, hold good throughout all 
the parts of the South Seas where I have been.'* 


by Google 


But the most important narratives are those in the workd 
of the French naturalists Labillardi^re and P^ron. The 
former was with Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, in 1792 ; the 
latter with Admiral Baudin, in 1802. The first interview 
is thus described : — 

** We got ready a few cartridges as fast as we could, and 
set out towards the place where we had seen the Natives. It 
was now only nine o'clock. We had gone only a few steps 
before we met them. The men and youths were ranged 
in front, nearly in a semicircle; the women, children, and 
girls were a few paces behind. As their manner did not 
appear to indicate any hostile design, I hesitated not to go 
up to the oldest, who accepted, with a very good grace, a 
piece of biscuit I offered him, of which he had seen me eat. 
I then held out my hand to him, as a sign of friendship, and 
had the pleasure to perceive that he comprehended my mean- 
ing very well. He gave me his, inclining himself a little, 
and raising at the same time the left foot, which he carried 
backward in proportion as he bent his body forward. These 
motions were accompanied by a pleasing smile. 

"My companions also advanced up to the others, and 
immediately the best understanding prevailed among us* 
They received with great joy the neckcloths which we offered 
them. The young people approached nearer to us, and one of 
them had the generosity to give me a few small shells of the 
whelk kind, pierced near the middle, and strung like a neck- 
lace. This ornament, which he called Canlamde^ was the 
only one he possessed, and he wore it round his head. A 
handkerchief supplied the place of this present, gratifying the 
utmost wishes of my savage, who advanced towards me that I 
might tie it round his head for him, and who expressed the 
greatest joy as he lifted his hand up to feel it again and 
again. We wore abundance of clothes, as I have already 
observed, on account of the coldness of the nights ; and we 
bestowed the greater part on these islanders. 

" The women were very desirous of coming nearer to us ; 
and though the men made signs to them to keep at a dis- 
tance, their curiosity was ready every moment to break 
through all other considerations. The gradual increase of 
confidence, however, that took place, obtained them permission 
to approach. It appeared to us very astonishing that in so 


by Google 


high a latitude, where, at a period of the year so little 
advanced as the present, we experienced the cold at night to 
he pretty severe, these people did not feel the necessity of 
clothing themselves. Even the women were, for the most 
part, entirely naked, as well as the men. Some of them only 
had the shoulders or part of the hack covered with a kanga- 
roo's skin, worn with the hair next the hody ; and amongst 
these we saw two, each of whom had an infant at the breast. 
The sole garment of one was a strip of kangaroo skin, about 
two inches broad, which was wrapped six or seven times 
round the waist. Another had a collar of skin round the 
neck, and some had a slender cord bound several times round 
the head. I afterwards learned that most of these cords were 
fabricated from the bark of a shrub of the Spurge family, very 
common in this country. 

*'.I had given them several things without requiring any- 
thing in return ; but I wished to get a kangaroo's skin, when, 
among the savages about us, there happened to be only a 
young girl who had one. When I proposed to her to give it 
me in exchange for a pair of pantaloons, she ran away to 
hide herself in the woods. The other Natives appeared truly 
hurt at her refusal, and called to her several times. At 
length she yielded to their entreaties, and came to bring me 
the skin. Perhaps it was from timidity only she could not 
prevail on herself to part with this kind of garment ; in 
return for which she received a pair of pantaloons,.less useful 
to her, according to the customs of ladies in this country, 
than the skin, which served to cover the shoulders. We 
showed her the manner of wearing them ; but, notwithstand- 
ing, it was necessary for us to put them on for her ourselves. 
To this she yielded with the best grace in the world." 

Jn that party were seven men, eight women, and seven 
children. Of course the French sailors tried the earliest 
known process of civilizing savages, — a taste of grog. But 
the stuff was promptly rejected by the unsophisticated palate. 
The merry Frenchmen, however, got the girls together, and 
induced them to run races with each other. An attempt at 
any improper freedom was resisted at once, though in a 
good-tempered vay. One girl, more rudely assaulted, fled to 
a rock overhanging the sea, prepared to throw herself down 
if her pursuer advanced further. 


by Google 


In 1798 Flinders and Bass fell in with the Natives hy the 
river Derwent. As it was in consequence of a report of 
this visit that the island became colonized by the English 
Government, — the first step to the extinction of the abori- 
ginal inhabitants, — it is interesting to read the particulars 
as told by Captain Collins, afterwards appointed to be the 
founder of the colony at Hobart Town. 

After speaking of the run of the Norfolk up the beautiful 
river, he proceeds in these words : " In their way up, a 
human voice saluted them from the hills; on which they 
landed, carrying with them one of several swans which they 
had just shot. Having nearly reached the summit, two 
females, with a short covering hanging loose from their 
shoulders, suddenly appeared at some little distance before 
them ; but, snatching up each a small basket, these scampered 
off. A man then presented himself, and suffered them to 
approach him without any signs of fear or distrust. He 
received the swan joyously, appearing to esteem it a treasure. 

'*His language was unintelligible to them, as was theirs 
to him, although they addressed him in several of the dialects 
of New South Wales, and some few of the most common 
words of the South Sea Islands. With some difficulty they 
made him comprehend their wish to see his place of residence. 
He pointed over the hill, and proceeded onwards ; but his 
pace was slow and wandering, and he often stopped under 
pretence that he had lost the track, which led them to 
suspect that his only aim was to amuse and tire them out. 
Judging, then, that in persisting to follow him they must 
lose the remaining part of the flood-tide, which was much 
more valuable to them than the sight of his hut could be, 
they parted from him in great friendship. The most probable 
reason of his unwillingness to be their guide, seemed to be 
his fearing that if he took them to his women their charms 
might induce them to run off with them — a jealousy very 
common with the natives of the continent. 

**He was a short, slight man, of middle age, with a 
countenance more expressive of benignity and intelligence, 
than of the ferocity or stupidity which generally character- 
ized the other Natives ; and his features were less flattened, 
or negro-like, than theirs. His face was blackened, and the 
top of his head was plastered with red earth. His hair was 


by Google 


either naturally short and close, or had been rendered so by 
burning, and, although short and stiffly curled, they did not 
think it woolly. He was armed with two spears, very ill- 
made, of solid wood. No part of their, dress attracted his 
attention, except the red silk handkerchiefs round their 
necks. Their fire-arms were to them neither objects of 
curiosity nor fear." 

But by far the most pleasing stories are told by M. P^ron. 
Eomantic they certainly are, as should be expected in an 
age blessed with the sentimentalities of Rousseau. The air 
of extravagance and invention is unmistakable. The de- 
scription must be accepted as the portraits taken on that 
occasion; sketches and narratives were but approximations 
of truth. Both were uncommonly French-like. Even the 
figures drawn have a touch of the Parisian about them. 
We hasten to present scenes in the language of the amiable 

" To the signs of friendship which we made, one of them 
precipitated himself from the top of a rock, rather than 
descended it, and in the twinkling of an eye was in the 
midst of us. He was a young man, of from twenty-two to 
twenty-four years of age, of an apparently strong constitution, 
having no other defect than a slenderness of legs and arms, 
which characterizes his nation. His physiognomy exhibited 
neither austerity nor ferocity; his eyes were quick and 
sparkling, and his looks expressed at once benevolence and 
surprise. M. Freycinet having embraced him, I did the 
same. But the air of indifference with which he welcomed 
this evidence of our interest made it easy to observe that it 
had no signification for him. (The Frenchmen discovered 
that kissing was a social mystery to these rude barbarians.) 
That which appeared to affect him more was the whiteness 
of our skin. Wishing to assure himself, without doubt, if 
that colour were the same all over the body, he opened our 
waistcoats and shirts, and his astonishment was manifested 
by loud cries of surprise, and above all by extremely quick 
stamping of the feet. 

" Yet our cutter appeared to occupy him more than our 
persons, and, after having gazed a few moments, he rushed 
down to the landing-place. There, without disturbing him- 
self about the sailors whom he found there, he seemed quite 


by Google 


absorbed in his new observation. The thickness of the ribs 
and panels, the solidity of its construction, its mdder, its 
oars, its masts, its sails, he observed with all that silence 
and that profound attention which are the least equivocal 
signs of a reflective interest and admiration. In a moment 
one of the sailors, wishing without doubt to add to his sur- 
prise, presented him with a wine bottle fiUed with the grog 
which formed a part of the rations of the ship. The bright- 
ness of the glass called forth a cry of astonishment from 
the savage, who took the bottle and examined it for some 
moments; but soon his curiosity being led again to the 
vessel, he threw the bottle into the sea, without appearing 
to have any other intention than to relieve himself of an 
indifferent object, and afterwards went to his first research^ 
Neither the cry of the sailor, who was troubled at the loss 
of his bottle of grog, nor the entreaty of one of his comrades 
to throw himself into the water to catch it, appeared to move 
him. He made several attempts to push the cutter free, 
but the cable which held it attached rendering all his efforts 
powerless, he was constrained to abandon it and return to 
join us, after having given us the most striking example 
that we had had of the attention and reflection in savage 

We have then a passage worthy of Eoussean himself. A 
fEunily group present themselves : — 

" The old man, after having examined both of us with as 
much surprise and satisfaction as the first, made signs to two 
women, who had hitherto been unwilling to approach. They 
hesitated some moments, after which the elder came to us. 
The younger followed her, more timid and fearful than the 
first The one appeared to be forty years old, and large 
furrows upon the skin of the abdomen announced, not to be 
mistaken, that she had been the mother of several children. 
She was absolutely naked, and appeared, like the old man, 
kind and benevolent. The young woman, of from twenty- 
six to twenty-eight years, was of a pretty robust constitution ; 
like the preceding, she was entirely naked, with the excep- 
tion of a kangaroo skin, in which she carried a little girl, 
whom she still suckled. Her breasts, a little withered 
already, appeared otherwise pretty well formed, and suffi- 
ciently furnished with milk. This young woman, like the 


by Google 

(Piron's Voyage) 


by Google 


by Google 


elderly man and woman, whom we presumed to be her father 
and mother, had an interesting physiognomy. Her eyes had 
expression, and something of the spirituel which surprised 
Tis, and which since then we have never found in any other 
female of that nation. She appeared, also, to cherish her 
child much ; and her care for her had that affectionate and 
gentle character which is exhibited among all races as the 
particular attribute of maternal tenderness.'* 

Another family group excited the most romantic ravings 
of our French explorers. These consisted of a father and 
mother, a young man, a little boy about five years old, a girl 
of younger years, and a helle aauvage of sixteen or seventeen. 
Upon making acquaintance with this distinguished party, 
P/ron, like a true man of gallantry, drew off his glove, while 
bowing to the beauty, preparatory to his offering the saluta- 
tion of refined society. The fair one of the forest was struck 
with horror and alarm at the facility with which her admirer 
apparently peeled off his skin, and was not easily relieved of 
her fears for his safety. The old man, in primitive simplicity, 
invited the visitors to his evening meal of cockles and 
mussels. P^ron sang, for his supper, the Marseillaise Hymn. 
The effect he describes : " The young man tore his hair, 
scratched his head with both hands, agitated himself in a 
hundred different ways, and repeatedly iterated his approving 
clamour." Other and more tender airs followed, which 
doubtless touched the tender chords of the young lady. Let 
us hear his tale of this gentle one : — 

" The young girl whom I have noticed made herself more 
and more conspicuous every instant, by the softness of her 
looks, and their affectionate and sparkling expression. Our4 
Oura, like her parents, was perfectly naked, and appeared 
little to suspect that one should find in that absolute nudity 
anything immodest or indecent. Of a weaker constitution 
than her little brother and sister, she was more lively and 
impassioned than they. M. Freycinet, who seated himself 
beside her, appeared to be more particularly the object of het 
agreeable attentions, and the least experienced eye might 
have been able, in the look of this innocent child of nature, 
to distinguish that delicate shadow which gives to simple 
playfulness a more serious and reflective character. Coquetry 
appeared to be called forth to the support of natural attractions. 


by Google 


Our4 Our^ made us know for the first time the nature 
of the rouge of these regions, and the details of its applica- 
tion. After having put some charcoal in my hands, she 
crushed it, and reduced it to very fine powder ; then keeping 
this dust in the left hand, she took some with the right, and 
ruhhing at first the forehead, then the two cheeks, in an 
instant was frightfully hlack : that which above all appeared 
singular to us was the complacency with which the young 
girl looked at us after the operation, and the air of confidence 
which this new ornament had spread upon her features. 
Thus, then, the sentiment of coquetry, the taste for ornament, 
are wants, so to speak, innate in the heart of woman." 

Their interest in the children was creditable to the good 
feelings of the Frenchmen. The little ones pleased them, 
and led to the philosophical remark, that " uniting our 
particular observations to those of the most celebrated 
travellers, we deduced therefrom the important consequence, 
that the character of the woman and the child is very much 
independent of that of the man, of the influence of climate, 
the perfectioning of social order, and the empire of physical 

M. P^ron then proceeds to describe a little bit of vanity 
on the other side. " Oura Onvk carried a reed bag, of an 
elegant and singular construction, which I much desired to 
obtain. As this young girl evidenced for me some more 
amicable distinctions, I ventured to ask for her little bag. 
Immediately, and without hesitation, she put it into my 
hand, accompanying the present with an obliging smile and 
some affectionate phrases, which I regretted not being able 
to understand." The gallant gave her a handkerchief and a 
tomahawk in return ; but upon M. Breton bestowing a long 
red feather, " she leaped for joy. She called her father and 
her brothers. She cried, she laughed ; in a word, she seemed 
intoxicated with pleasure and happiness." 

But the dearest friends must part. The gentlemen pre- 
pared for the loneliness of shipboard, grieving to resign the 
delights of Arcadian simplicity, and the pure pleasures of 
aboriginal innocence. Yet our natives were too polite to 
permit their guests to depart unattended. The civilities of 
ordinary civilization were not wanting. 

" M. Freycinet gave his arm to Oura Our& ; the old man 


by Google 


■was my mate. Our way lay amidst briars and underwood, 
and our poor savages, being wholly naked, suffered greatly, 
Our4 Oura, in particular, was sadly scratched. But heedless 
of this, she boldly made her way through the thicket, chatter* 
ing with Freycinet, and vexed at her inability to make her- 
self understood ; at the same time accompanying her discourse 
with sportive wiles and smiles, so gracious and expressive, 
that the most finished coquetry could not have rendered 
them more so." 

How affecting must have been the parting ! The French^ 
men entered their boats in profound despondency. The 
feeling was reciprocated ; for " the Natives manifested their 
sorrow in the most affecting manner." The kind naturalist 
adds, ** Our good Diemenese did not leave us for an instant ; 
and when we pushed off, their grief showed itself in the 
most touching manner. They made signs to return to see 
them." They even lighted a large fire upon a neighbouring 
hill; that, when the winds had driven the vessel miles away, 
the column of smoke might indicate a spot so sacred to peace 
and friendship. No wonder that poor P^ron, thoroughly 
smitten, closes that day's journal with these words: "The 
whole of what I have related is minutely exact ; and assuredly 
it were difficult to resist the soft emotion which similar 
incidents inspire." 

Now, alas ! tnith demands that we reverse the shield. A 
boat's crew landed on Bruni Island. On this occasion they 
encountered no Oura Our4. A fine athletic fellow had been 
showing off his powers, when a French midshipman engaged 
him in a wrestling match, and with superior science threw 
him. The sulky rascal got up, and threw a spear at the 
victor. Another time Messrs. Petit, Leschenault, and 
Hamelin went ashore at Bruni. Petit, an artist, began 
taking likenesses of the Natives present. This liberty was 
resented by one man, who rushed forward to seize the por- 
traits, which were saved from the Goth with difficulty. 
Blows were struck on both sides, and a shower of stones 
closed the entente eordiale. The practical Leschenault has 
left us this expression of his opinion : "I am surprised to 
hear persons of sense still affirm that man in a natural state 
is not of a bad disposition, but worthy of confidence." Had 
P6ron received a stone at his head, instead of a basket from 


by Google 


pretty Ourd, liis views might have approximated to those of 
his brother naturalist. 

Let us hear another tale from M. P^ron. While wander- 
ing among the Bush flowers of Tasmania, and admiring the 
sylvan charms of that Isle of Beauty, he encountered a 
company of Diana's forest maidens, to whom, in the distance, 
the French officers Waved their handkerchiefs. 

"At these demonstrations of friendship the troop hesitated 
an instant, then stopped, and resolved to wait for us. It 
was then that we recognized that we had the company of 
women ; there was not a male individual with them. . We 
were disposed to join them nearer, when one of the oldest 
among them, disengaging herself from her companions, made 
signs for us to stop and sit down, crying out loudly to us, 
rriedi^ medi (sit down, sit down). She seemed also to ask- us 
to lay down our arms, the view of which alarmed her. These 
preliminary conditions having been complied with, the women 
squatted upon their heels, and from that moment abandoned 
themselves without reserve to the vivacity of their character, 
speaking all together, questioning us all at once, making, in 
a word, a thousand gestures, a thousand contortions as 
singular as varied. M. Bellefin (doctor) began to sing-, 
accompanying himself with very lively and animated gestures. 
The women kept silence, observing with much attention the 
gestures of M. Bellefin, as if by them to interpret his singing. 
Hardly had one couplet been completed, when some of them 
applauded with loud cries, others laughed to the echo, whilst 
the young girls, more timid without doubt, kept silence, 
evidencing nevertheless, by theijc movements and by the 
expression of their physiognomy, their surprise and their 

"All Ihe women, with the exception of kangaroo skins 
which some of them carried upon their shoulders, were per- 
fectly naked ; but, without appearing to think anything of 
their nudity, they so varied their attitudes and their postures, 
that it would be difficult to describe the bizarre and the 
picturesque effects presented to us by that meeting. Their 
skin, black and disgusting with the fat of seals ; their hair, 
short, crisp, black and dirty, reddened in some with the dust 
of ochre; their figures, all bedaubed with charcoal; their 
forms, generally thin and faded; their breasts, long and 


by Google 


pendant — in a word, all the details of their physical consti- 
tution were repulsive. "We must always exempt from this 
general tableau two or three young girls of from fifteen to 
sixteen years, in whom we distinguished forms agreeable 
enough, contours sufficiently graceful, and in whom the 
breast was firm and well placed, although the nipple wgis a 
little too large and too long. These young girls had also 
something in the expression of their features the most 
ingenuous, the most affectionate, and the most gentle, as if 
the better qualities of the soul could exist even in the midst 
of the savage hordes of the human species, the more particular 
gift of youth, of grace, and of beauty. 

" Among the more aged females, some had a gross and 
ignoble figure ; others, much fewer in number, had a fierce 
and sombre look; but, in general, one remarked in all I 
know not what of inquietude and depression, which misfor- 
tune and slavery imprint on the features of all beings who 
bear the yoke. Almost all were covered with scars, sad 
fruits of ill-treatment from their ferocious husbands. One 
only, in the midst of all her companions, had preserved a 
dignified aspect, with much enjoyment and joviality ; it was 
she who had imposed the conditions of which I have spoken 
before. After M. Bellefin had ended his song, she legan to 
mimic with her gestures and her tone of voice in a very 
original and pleasant manner, which much diverted her 
companions. Then she began to sing herself in so rapid a 
way, that it would be difficult to apply such music to the 
ordinary principles of our own. Their song, nevertheless, is 
here in accordance with their language, for such is the volu- 
bility of speech in these people, that it is impossible, as we 
shall elsewhere show, to distinguish any precise sound in 
their pronunciation : it is a sort of trilling sentiment, for 
which we cannot find any terms of comparison or analogy 
in our European languages. 

" Excited, so to speak, by her own singing, which we had 
not failed to applaud with warmth, and wishing, without 
doubt, to deserve our suffrages on other accounts, our jovial 
Diemenese commenced to execute various dance movements, 
some of which would have been regarded as excessively 
indecent, if that state of human society were not foreign 
to all that delicacy of sentiment and action which is for 


by Google 


US bat a fortunate product of the perfection of social 

'* Whilst all this passed, I employed myself accurately to 
collect and note the details that were presented, and which 
I now describe. It was remarked, doubtless, by the same 
woman who was dancing ; for hardly had she finished her 
dance, than she approached me with an obliging air, took 
from a reed bag, similar to that I have described elsewhere, 
some charcoal which she found there, crushed it in her hand, 
and began to lay on me a plaster of the rouge of those regions* ^ 
I willingly lent myself to this obliging caprice. M. Heirisson ) 

had the same complacency, and received a similar mask. 
We appeared to be then a great object of admiration to these 
women ; they seemed to regard us with a sweet satisfaction, 
and to felicitate us upon the new adornments which we had 
just acquired." 

This led our traveller to another philosophical remark, 
founded upon his new experience : " Thus, then, that European 
whiteness of which our species is so proud is no other than 
a real defect, a sort of deformity which ought to be resigned 
in these remote climes to the black colour of charcoal, to the 
sombre red ^f ochre, or fuller's earth." It might be reason- 
ably supposed that such polite acquiescence to the wishes of 
these sable charmers would have moved them to permit of some 
playful return on the part of the fun-loving Frenchmen, 
especially when rendered so attractive by the hand of the 
lovely Arra Maida. But, alas ! in their timidity or coldness 
they were true nymphs of the chaste Diana. 

" The deference which we paid to these women, and per- 
haps also the new charms which we owed to their attentions, 
seemed to add to their kindness, to their confidence in us, but 
nothing could induce them, however, to allow themselves to 
be approached nearer. The least movement which we made, 
or appeared to make, to pass the prescribed line, caused them 
to spring up from their heels, and take to flight. Any longer 
to enjoy their presence, we were constrained to conform our- 
selves entirely to their wishes. After having lavished upon 
them presents and caresses, we considered it proper to retake 
our route toward the anchorage, and our Diemenese appearing 
to have the intention of walking the same way as ourselves, 
the two companies left.. But we were again obliged to 



by Google 


come to terms with these inexorable women, who condemned 
us to follow the shore, while they walked upon the sandi 
hills parallel to it." 

The gentlemen were doubtless not used to such prudery in 
the salons of Paris. Bat our next extract exhibits a more 
prosaic sequel to this romantic adventure : — 

" As they were returning from fishing when we perceived 
them, they were laden with large crabs, lobsters, and different 
shell-fish grilled upon ashes, which they carried in baskets of 
reed. These baskets were tied round in front by a circle of 
cord, and hung behind the back ; some of these were very 
heavy, and we very sincerely pitied these poor women, 
carrying such burdens. 

"Our journey all the while was not less gay than our 
interview, and from the top of the sand-hills they sent ua 
many pleasantries, many playful compliments, to which we 
endeavoured to reply as expressively as it was possible. 
Without doubt we should have continued for a much longer 
time these innocent amusements, when all at once one of the 
women uttered a great cry, and all the others repeated it with 
fright. They had discovered our landing-place and our com- 
rades. "We sought to calm their excitement, assi^ring them 
that so far from experiencing ,any injury from our friends, 
they were going to receive new gifts. All was in vain, and 
already the troop were burying themselves in the forest, when 
the same woman who, almost alone, had made our interview 
80 agreeable, seemed to change her mind. At her voice there 
was a moment of hesitation ; but not being able, as it appeared 
to us, to induce them to follow her, she threw herself alone 
from the top of the sand-hill, and walking upon the shore 
some distance before us with much confidence, and even with 
a sort of pride, she seemed to deride the timidity of her 
companions. The others, in their turn, appeared ashamed 
of their weakness; little by little their courage increased, 
until at length they decided to return to the beach. Accom- 
panied by this numerous and singular escort, we arrived at 
the place of embarkation, near which, by an accident no one 
could foresee, all the husbands of these poor women had been 
gathered together for some time." What followed 1 

" In spite of the least equivocal evidence of the benevolence 
and generosity of our countrymen, they exhibited a restless 


by Google 


and sombre physiognomy, and their look was ferocious and 
threatening, and in their attitude we distinguished a con- 
straint, malevolence, and pei-fidy which they sought to 
dissemble in vain. At this inauspicious meeting, all the 
women who followed us appeared much concerned. Their 
furious husbands cast upon them glances of anger and rage, 
which were not likely to comfort them. After having laid 
the products of their fishing at the feet of these men, who 
partook of them immediately, without offering them any, 
they retired behind their husbands, and seated themselves 
upon the other side of a large sand-hill, and there, during the 
rest of our interview, these unfortunate creatures dared neither 
raise their eyes, nor speak, nor smile." 

After this unfortimate teimination of a happy meeting, our 
voyagers took their departure. But the effect of the visit 
upon the susceptible nature of the naturalist is recognized in 
the closing words of his journal : — 

" Thus ended our interview with the inhabitants of 
Diemen's Land. All the descriptions which I have given 
are of the most rigorous exactitude, and without doubt it 
would have been difficult to deny oneself the sweet emotions 
which similar circumstances ought to inspire. This gentle 
confidence of the people in us, these affectionate evidences of 
benevolence which they never ceased to manifest toward us, 
the sincerity of their demonstrations, the frankness of their 
manners, the touching ingenuousness of their caresses, all con- 
curred to excite within us sentiments of the tenderest interest. 
The intimate union of the different individuals of a family, 
the sort of patriarchal life of which we had been spectators, 
had strongly moved us. I saw with an inexpressible pleasure 
the realization of those brilliant descriptions of the happiness 
and simplicity of the state of nature of which I had so 
many times in reading felt the seductive charm." 

Such were the sentiments entertained of a people, almost 
universally regarded by English colonists, a few years later, 
as tigers and demons, whose destruction would be a deed of 
merit, as well as an act of necessity. Smile as we may at the 
simplicity of P6ron, had our faith in the poor creatures been 
more like that of the kind-hearted Frenchman, the reader 
might have been spared the story of the crimes and horrors 
attending the history of ** The Lost Tasmanian Race." 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

3 1 


by Google 



Whatever sorrows arose from the mixture of Whites 
and Blacks in the little island, it cannot be affinned that 
Government was ignorant of the usual effects of such an 
intercourse, nor unmindful of the duty incumbent on the 
State to protect the aboriginal inhabitants. Warned by the 
consequences of such neglect on the mainland of New Holland, 
and shocked at the cries reaching England from the shores 
of New South Wales, Lord Hobart, then Secretary for the 
Colonies, sent this despatch to Captain Collins, when under- 
taking, at the close of 1803, to form a settlement on the 
banks of the Derwent. 

" You are to endeavour," wrote he, " by every means in 
your power, to open an intercourse with the Natives, and to 
conciliate their good- will, enjoining all parties under your 
government to live in amity and kindness with them ; and if 
any person shall exercise any acts of violence against them, 
or shall wantonly give them any interruption in the exercise of 
their several occupations, you are to cause such offender to be 
brought to punishment, according to the degree of the offence." 

But before the first Governor of Van Diemen^s Land 
established his quarters at Hobart Town, the unhappy 
collision between the Whites and the Blacks had taken place 
by the river Derwent. 

A party had been sent down from Sydney just before the 
arrival of Collins from the abortive attempt to settle Port 
Phillip. Camping at Restdown^ afterwards Risdon, five miles 
from Hobart, it was there, early in 1804, that the unfortunate 
event took place that ushers in the sad story of the " Black 
War.'' A little tide creek flows into the Derwent, not far 
from the Risdon farm. The sandstone ranges rapidly ascend 
from the water's edge, while vast masses of palaeozoic lime- 
stone in the neighbourhood rest as heavy buttresses by the 
river. This was the site of the massacre. 

The story of the first conflict of races in Tasmania is 
involved in misty obscurity. To exhibit this difliculty of 
writing history, we need only to refer to the diary of the first 
colonial chaplain, the Rev. Robert Knopwood, who was only 
a few miles from the scene of war, who inquired into it of 



by Google 


the very parties concerned in it, and who was accnstoined to 
enter each day's occurrences in his journal And yet all he 
could get to enter was the following : " Had heard different 
opinions — that they wanted to encamp on the site of Burke's 
hut, half a mile from the camp, and ill-used his wife — that 
the hut was not hurnt or plundered — that the Natives did 
not attack the camp — that our people went from the camp to 
attack the Natives, who remained at Burke's house.'* 

All we positively know is that one day there appeared on 
the heights a large body of the Aborigines, and not very far 
from the spot where Bass and Flinders held friendly parley 
with one of the tribe ; so that there was no reason to suspect 
hostile intentions. Women and children were there. The 
officer in command ordered the soldiers with him to fire upon 
the advancing hunters, and numbers were slain. 

One person states that the event took place while the 
Lieutenant-Governor Bowen was on a tour, and that the 
Natives came down the hill shouting and singing, in full 
pursuit of some kangaroos. Another eye-witness mentions 
the fact of the man Burke, living just outside of the camp, 
running in great alarm with his wife to the soldiers, at the 
eight of the five hundred Blacks, whose women and children 
were with them. It is well known that when a savage people 
contemplate mischief they invariably send their women to the 
rear. Thus, then, we have a guarantee of their peaceable 
intentions. The same evidence records the death of, at least, 
fifty of various ages and of both sexes. There is, also, the 
assertion that the people came on in a semicircle down the 
hill, with loud cries, driving the kangaroos into a bottom, 
where they could be easier caught and destroyed. 

The Aborigines' Committee, a body of gentlemen appointed 
by the benevolent Governor Arthur to watch over the interests 
of that unhappy people at the time of the Black War, when 
engaged in an investigation as to the causes producing the 
hostility of the dark race, took certain evidence vphich bore 
upon this historical question. One Edward White, who had 
been servant to W. Clark, and who had erected the nide hut 
or house inhabited by the commanding-officer, Lieutenant 
Bowen, stated before the Committee that, on the 3rd of May, 
1804, he was engaged hoeing some ground near the creek at 
Bisdon, when looking up at the shouting, he saw about three 


by Google 

MASSACRE IN 1804, 21 

hundred Natives coming down the Tiers in a circle, men, 
women, and children, with a flock of kangaroos between 
them. He then declared : — 

** They looked at me with all their eyes. I went down to 
the creek, and reported them to some soldiers, and then went 
back to my work. The Natives did not threaten me. I was 
not afraid of them. Clark's house was near where I was at 
work, and Burke's house near Clark's house. The Natives 
did not attack the soldiers. They could not have molested 
them. The firing commenced about eleven o'clock^ There 
were many of the Natives slaughtered and wounded. I don't 
know how many. Some of their bones were sent in two 
casks to Port Jackson by Dr. Mountgarrett. They went in 
the Ocean, A boy was t.aken from them. This was three 
or four months after we landed. They never came so close 
again afterwards. They had no spears with them — only 
waddies. They were hunting, and came down into a bottom ." 

Another witness, Eobert Evans, belonging to the Risdon 
party, was examined by the Committee. He was not present 
at the time, though on the ground immediately afterwards, 
and learned the news. He was told then that when they 
came on in a large body they did not make any attack, but 
they brought a great number of kangaroos with them for a 
corrobory. He never heard that they interrupted any one, 
but that they were fired upon. He did not know who ordered 
them to be fired upon, or how many were said to have been 
killed, though he had heard that there were men, women, 
and children, and that some were killed, and that some 
children were taken away. 

One of my own informants, a settler of 1804, said that 
the officer. Lieutenant Moore, saw double that morning from 
an over-dose of rations' rum. Several have assured me of 
the good feeling between the two races before that event. 
The reputation which the soldiers of the New South "Wales 
corps, afterwards the 102nd Regiment, earned for drinking 
propensities, and their officers for spirit-dealing, in the 
primitive times, led some to think that the whole was the 
effect of a halt-drunken spree, and that the firing arose from 
a brutal desire to see the Niggers run. 

That excellent story-teller, Captain Holman, the Blind 
Traveller round the world, who made such capital use of 


by Google 


the eyes of other people, has left us a statement he learned 
in 1831, when on a vis»it to Mr. Gregson, the veteran 
Tasmanian Reformer. The Blind Traveller heard the story 
on the identical spot of the massacre (for Mr. Gregson's 
house was at Risdon), and thus narrates it : — 

"It is said to have originated in the following manner. 
A small stone house had heen erected for a gardener, and 
he was commencing the cultivation of the ground imme- 
diately around it. In the midst of his work one day, he 
was surprised at the appearance of some Natives advancing 
towards him, and ran off much frightened to the camp to 
give the alarm. Lieutenant Moore, who commanded a party 
of the 102nd, drew up his men to resist the expected attack ; 
and, on the approach of the Natives, the soldiers were 
ordered to fire upon them. The execution this volley did 
among them, and their ignorance of the nature of fire-arms, 
terrified them to such a degree that they fled, without 
attempting the slightest defence. From this moment a 
deep-rooted hatred for the strangers sprang up among them, 
and all endeavours to subdue it had hitherto proved in- 

When I was once in Sydney, exploring dusty receptacles 
of ofiicialdom, and examining the early literature of New 
South Wales, for facts connected with colonial history, I 
met with some remarkable paragraphs in the Sydney Gazette^ 
the parent of the Australian Press, which commenced its 
being in 1803. The earliest, appearing in the paper of 
March 18, 1804, is particularly interesting, as giving us 
the first notice of the state and feeling of the Tasmanians 
at the landing of the Derwent party from Sydney, and 
before the terrible day of slaughter. The Lady Nelson 
had conveyed Lieutenant Bowen and his company to Risdon, 
and brought the earliest intelligence of their progress upon 
its return to Sydney. The little craft did much colonial 
service; having been the first to enter the Heads of Port 
Phillip, the first to colonize Southern Tasmania, and subse- 
quently the convoy of some of Captain Collins' Port Phillip 
party to the shores of the Derwent. This is the report it 
brou«iht: — 

**The Natives are very numerous, and undaunted even at 
the explosion of a musket ; but were very fnendly to small 


by Google 


parties they meet accidentally, though they cannot be pre- 
vailed on to visit the encampment. During the Lady 
Nelson's stay a large kangaroo was taken in the woods by 
Henry Hacking, attended by a Sydney native; but being 
interrupted by a tribe of the sooty inhabitants of the 
neighbourhood, the kangaroo, being fifty or sixty pounds' 
weight, was, for a moment, considered as lost. The blacks 
made use of every policy to wheedle Hacking out of his 
booty; but, as they did not offer or threaten violence, he, 
with counteracting policy, preserved it. Although they 
treated him with much affability and politeness, yet they 
regarded his companion with jealousy and indignation ; and 
the poor fellow, sensible of his critical and precarious situ- 
ation, appeared very thankful when safely delivered from 
their unwelcome presence." 

Such a story as this leaves the military without excuse 
for their barbarous onslaught upon the Natives at Kisdon. 
They must have known by all experience that, though too^ 
shy to approach the camp, — or rather too fearful to place 
themselves and wives within reach of an armed soldiery, — 
they were gentle in their manners, under circumstances 
where numbers and forest freedom give confidence, if not 
audacity. The Sydney printer may well put the word 
" politeness " in small capitals. 'No wonder the Tasmanians 
were jealous of the stranger from New Holland, and indignant 
that a Black should appear in their presence with two front 
teeth knocked out, with an improper escutcheon of cicatrices, 
and with flowing hair, ^instead of the approved crisp and 
corkscrew ringlets. 

A letter from Port Dalrymple, afterwards Launceston, 
appeared in the Sydney Gazette on the 23rd of December, 
1804 :— 

" On the 14th (November), one of our small parties in 
the brush was surprised at the appearance of the first body 
of Natives seen ; and they, with a hideous shout, expressed 
an astonishment scarcely to be conceived at the sight of 
visitants so opposite to themselves in habit and complexion. 
About two hundred approaching our small party with im- 
petuous fury, they prudently retired, and were pursued into 
camp, near which the Natives were prevailed upon to enter 
into a parley. Signs were made of a friendly disposition 


by Google 


toward them, and, appearing to gather confidence, they 
accepted trifling presents, expressing extreme surprise at 
every object that occasionally attracted their attention ; but 
their apparent reciprocal inclination to a friendly understand- 
ing was now and then interrupted by an indignant clamour, 
which, beginning with a single individual, ran rapidly through, 
the lines, accompanied with gesticulations menacing and 
ferocious, at the same time biting their arms as a token 
either of vengeance or defiance. They afterwards peaceably 
withdrew, having from us experienced no other than a 
courteous and conciliatory treatment; but were positive in 
forbidding us to follow them/' 

All honour to the settlers of Port Dalrymple ! Unlike 
the soldiers of Risdon, they, a small party in the brushy 
were not alarmed at the presence of two hundred real " wild 
men of the woods," but, while retiring, enticed the savages 
to a conference, and trembled! not to hear their war-shout, 
or see their spear rasping. They gave presents and kind 
words, instead of oaths and musketry. This was a real 
victory, and gave the little northern settlement repose, when 
other places witnessed fire and blood. Twenty years after 
this, the women walked to the Basin, above the Falls of 
Launceston, and carried on in peace their laundry operations, 
while the naked spearmen of the forest looked down curiously 
upon them from the basaltic wood-crowned heights. 

A venerable lady, who came to Hobart Town in 1804, 
with her parents, the first free settlers of the first fleet, gave 
me much interesting information of her early days. She 
had heard people express their fears of the wild Blacks, and 
her mother gave her a caution about venturing far into the 
Bush, because she might be killed and eaten by the cannibals. 
At that time the family lived on their farm about three 
miles from town. A bold and enterprising child, she had 
long wished to have a nearer gaze at the magnificent Mount 
Wellington, whose snowy cap had often won her admiration. 
Prevailing on her little brother to accompany her, she set 
off one day while her parents were absent, and trudged 
through the Bush till she was lost amidst the dense foliage 
of the mountain gullies. There she fell in with some 
Aborigines. The spirited lassie exhibited no alarm, and 
found herself kindly treated by the sable throng. She 


by Google 


furthermore told me that when a girl she had often met 
them in the Camp, as Hohart Town was then called, and 
that they were always quiet and well conducted. 

I regret to say that, though I have been much favoured 
in my researches among the old records of Tasmania, espe- 
cially by the late Mr. Bicheno, Colonial Secretary under 
Governor Franklin, and afterwards by the Premier, Sir 
Eichard Dry, I was so unfortunate as to discover no 
papers relative to the first six years of the settlement* The 
story goes, that upon the sudden decease of the first governor, 
Captain Collins being found dead in his chair, two of the 
leading officers of the Government placed a marine outside 
the door, so that they might be undisturbed, and then pro- 
ceeded to burn every document in the office ! ! 1 Although 
I subsequently knew one of these gentlemen, it was not 
likely I should learn from himself the correctness of the 
report, any more than the motive for such vandalism. 

But I take this opportunity of acknowledging my gratitude 
to Mr. Hull, Clerk of the Tasmanian Council, and son of 
my old and esteemed neighbour, Mr. Commissary Hull, 
through whose kindness I got access to the only remaining 
early document, and for the disentombment of which record 
he is to be credited. This was the Muster Book of 1810, 
&c., kept at the barracks, in which the commanding officer 
entered the countersign of the day, and in which, also, 
occasional notices of the day*s proceedings were written. 
The previous Muster Books, doubtless conveyed for safety 
to the Governor's office, have all disappeared ; they pro- 
bably added to the conflagration on that one dark night of 

In this interesting memorandum-book is an entry, on 
January 29th, 1810, of a Government Order bearing upon 
our subject. It exhibits the commencement of the " Black 
War," and marks the sentiments of the authorities as to its 
origin, and their resolution to protect the poor creatures 
who were the objects of civilized cruelty. The Order is 
the following : — 

" There being great reason to fear that William Russell 
and George Gelley will be added to the number of unfoiS 
tunate men who have been put to death .by the Natives, in 
revenge for the niurders and abominable cruelties which 


by Google 


have been practised upon them by the white people, the 
lieutenant-Governor, awai-e of the evil consequences that 
must result to the settlement, if such cruelties are continued, 
and abhorring the conduct of those miscreants who perpe- 
trate them, hereby declares that any person whomsoever who 
shall offer violence to a native, or who shall in cool blood 
murder, or cause any of them to be murdered, shall, on proof 
being made of the same, be dealt with and proceeded against 
as if such violence had been offered, or murder committed 
on, a civilized person." 

This was worthily carrying out the instructions of the 
Minister, Lord Hobart, so far as declarations went; but 
history gives us no instance of the execution of the decree. 
The man who penned the Order shortly after departed this 
life, a disorderly interregnum followed, and, when a new 
Lieutenant-Governor from England appeared, we find the 
island in so chaotic a state, that there was some excuse for 
further neglect. When we see the Governor of a British 
Colony so reduced in resources, or so bereft of energy, as 
to hold correspondence with an outlaw, a ferocious man of 
blood, and afterwards consent to the terms of a Bushranger 
longing for a visit to the capital, when tired of his chase for 
victims, we cannot expect the enforcement of the command 
of January 29 th, 1810. But we can fully appreciate the 
truthfulness of the Sydney Gazette of April 10th, 1813, when 
describing the society of Van Diemen*s Land, at that period, 
and the real progress of the " Black War." 
' " The Natives of Van Diemen's Land," quoth the Gazette^ 
" continue to be very inimical, which is mostly attributed to 
their frequent ill-treatment from the Bushrangers, who, to 
avoid punishment for their offences, have betaken themselves 
to the woods, there miserably to exist on the adventitious 
succours which those wilds afford. Acts of cruelty are re- 
ported of these desperadoes against the Natives ; and the 
latter seldom suffer an opportunity to escape of wreaking 
their vengeance upon all persons of the same colour with 
the lawless wanderers, without discrimination." 

It was on the 26th of June, 1813, that the Government 
issued a proclamation against those disturbers of the peace of 
both Whites and Blacks. It came upon the occasion of an 
attack upon a herd of cattle at the Coal Kiver. The Governor 


by Google 


proceeded to point'out the cause : " The resentment of these 
poor uncultivated beings has been justly provoked by a most 
barbarous and inhuman mode of proceeding acted toward 
them, viz. the robbing of their children." The Governor 
then expresses his horror at such shameful behaviour, and 
exclaims in quitej unofficial language, "Let any man put 
his hand to his heart and ask which is the savage — the white 
man who robs the parent of his children, or the black man 
who boldly steps forward to resent the injury, and recover 
his stolen offspring ; the conclusion, alas ! is too obvious." 
The end of the proclamation pledges the Government to 
punish all so offending to the utmost rigour of the law. 

To pass on in the order of time, quotations can now be 
given from the newly-born Hohart Town Gazette^ which — 
though established by a private individual, the son of the 
founder of the Australian Press, at once the editor, printer, 
pressman, and proprietor of the Sydney Gazette — ^was an 
official organ of Government. 

An interesting account is given in the paper of August 20, 
1814, of a visit of some Natives to Hohart Town, and the 
valuable service of a courageous and benevolent convict, the 
forerunner of George Augustus Eobinson, the Conciliator. 
The circumstance exemplifies the fact that our Natives were 
different from the continental ones, in their indisposition to 
approach the Whites. Here we have a record of an import- 
ant tribe living on the North Arm — ^a peninsula at the 
junction of the Derwent and the Storm Bay, and only a few 
miles from the capital — having had no acquaintance with 
our civilization after our ten years' occupancy of the island. 
As these people were either the same as, or the neighbours 
to, the kangaroo hunters so wantonly fired at in 1804, there 
was some reason for their retirement, as well as some apology 
for an intended outrage. The newspaper paragraph is given 
with its literal peculiarities : — 

** We mentioned some time ago of several Natives being 
broui^ht to town from the woods at South Arm, after 
receiving certain articles of clothing from His Honor the 
Lieut. -Governor and other humane gentlemen of this Settle- 
ment, they were conducted through the streets by A. Camp- 
bell (a prisoner). Their curiosity, which had never been 
gratified before with such a sight, prompted them to examine 


by Google 


everything with wonder and amazement, without bestowing 
their attention longer than a moment on any single object. 

" The Lieut. -Govern or having expressed a desire to see the 
remainder of the Natives left at the South Arm, Campbell 
accompanied with 2 other persons again returned to that 
place, the party spent 3 days in fruitless search after them, 
when they discovered two Natives who informed them that 
the rest were on Betsy's Island. 

** Next morning Campbell and party went in a boat ta 
that island, accompanied by a native woman of one of the 
neighbouring islands, and who has lived with Campbell for 
some years; this woman has been of considerable service 
to the party, by representing the humane treatment she 
received from the White People. On landing they saw 
a number of Natives sitting round the fire, and on their 
perceiving the children cloathed they were greatly astonished, 
and felt their dresses ; when the Natives informed them of 
their reception in town, they all expressed a wish by Camp- 
bell's woman to see Hobart, and it was with difficulty the 
party prevented the Boat from sinking, so eager were they 
to get in. Campbell brought 13 to town, who received every 
kindness and humanity from the Lieut. -Governor, who like- 
wise clothed them. They were afterwards landed on the 
Island of Le Bruni (Bruni) at their own request. 

" We trust that the exertions of Campbell and his party 
will be a prelude to more intercourse with the native tribes, 
and by the means of such humane treatment endeavour to 
reclaim them from a savage life." 

The kindness of the Hobart Town people to a few visitors 
from the Wilds told favourably afterwards; for, from 
another extract, we learn that Campbell was indirectly the 
means of saving the life of one of his countrymen. 

" A few days ago," says the Hobart Town Gazette^ " up- 
wards of 100 Natives surrounded a house at South Arm, and 
knocked at the door ; on the person within opening it, and 
perceiving the Natives, he was in great terror, and after 
shutting the door endeavoured to escape by a back window, 
but seeing it in vain, he again opened the door, when several 
Natives came in, to whom he offered victuals, but they 
refused to eat. After they had surveyed the premises, an 
elderly man led the person by the arm, who lived in the 


by Google 


house, nearly half a mile into the woods, and placed him in 
the middle of them, and at the moment the Natives were 
ahout to throw their spears at the unfoi-tunate victim, a native 
man, whom A. Camphell had hrought to Hohart Town some 
time ago, addressed them, when they all walked away, 
leaving the person to return to his own residence. Thus by 
the humanity already shown to these Natives the life of a 
fellow-creature has been preserved." 

A gentleman, whose station was in the centre of the island, 
spoke to me of the Natives occasionally coming down to his 
hut, as early as 1814, and bartering a kangaroo*s tail for a 
bit of English mutton. Others have told me that they were 
able to travel about the Bush in perfect security between that 
period and 1822. Several elderly ladies have narrated to 
me circumstances showing much geniality and friendly inter-, 
course ; as, the playing of their children with the Aborigines, 
and their boys going to hunt with the dark skins. These 
ladies had the conviction that such a happy state of things 
would have continued but for the conduct of the Bush 
prisoner servants toward the native females. An old man, 
who had been assigned servant to Mr. Wedge, gave me the 
story of falling in with a company of two hundred, in 1819, 
quietly camping on Mr. Archer*s run, and of seeing that 
same year a score of Blacks assisting at Mr. Bonner's farm 
in harvest time, receiving potatoes and damper for pay- 
ment. Even the Hohart Toicn Gazette, so late as 1824, con- 
templating the quiet times, writes : " Perhaps, taken col- 
lectively, the sable Natives of this colony are the most 
peaceful creatures in the world." 

But from even early days occasional outbreaks took place. 
The difference, however, between these and the outrages of 
later times, lay in the fact that, while most of the former 
were confined to petty thieving, the latter were more fre- 
quently from motives of hatred and revenge, and parts of a 
combined movement of aggression. 

The arrest of amicable relations was owing, as has been 
stated, to interference with the gins, and the stealing of 
children. We have been so accustomed to associate kidnap- 
ping with roving gipsies, wild Indians, and savage Tartars, 
as to doubt the charge Tfhen attached to our own country- 
men. Yet the very proclamations of Government attest 


by Google 


to the veracity of the indictmeat. The first chaplain took 
some interest in the people ; he often had a festive gathering 
at his house, and described them as being always well 
behaved. He had visits of twenty at a time at his cottage. 
But, after 1814, the numbers dropped off, until his visitors 
deserted him and his larder altogether. Investigating the 
cause of the change, he was told by the Natives tliat they 
would not go to town again because bad men stole their 
piccaninnies. ' 

When Governor Macquarie returned to Sydney after his 
memorable tour through the island of his dependency, he 
issued a Public Notice, June 18th, I8l4, thanking the 
settlers of Van Diemen's Land for their loyal attention, and 
praising them for their enterprise and progress ; but the con- 
dition of the Aborigines of the little colony touched his 
humane heart, and stirred his generous impulses to action. 
Nobly did he, as Governor-General of the various settlements 
in those southern parts, labour for the good of the dark race. 
It was the constant exhibition of brutality toward them that 
aroused his anger, and called forth the following strong 
language in this Proclamation when alluding to some case : — 
" Although it was not sufficiently clear and satisfactory 
to warrant the institution of criminal prosecution, it was 
enough so to convince any unprejudiced man that the first 
personal attacks were made on the part of settlers and their 
servants. Several years having elapsed since anything like 
a principle of hostility has been acted upon, or even in the 
slightest degree exhibited in the conduct of the Natives, 
it must be evident that no deep-rooted prejudice exists in 
their minds against British subjects or white men." 

An amusing story is told of an affront given the tribes one 
time when Governor Sorell had invited a number to Hobart 
Town. They were gathered in the Government Paddock, a 
large reserve outside of the town, and were exercising them- 
selves before the Whites. One young girl, however, in the 
very mischief of a spoiled beauty, took up one of the men's 
spears, and threw it at the reigning beau of the day — one 
Captain Hamilton. Although the weapon never struck, nor 
had it been intended to strike, the son of Mars, being indig- 
nant at the liberty taken with his loftiness, complained to 
the Governor, and insisted upon the rout of the Natives. 


by Google 


Colonel Sorell, to appease the excited soldier, requested his 
visitors to withdraw from the camp. These were so indignant 
at the treatment they received for so trifling an accident, that 
they would never accept of another guhernatorial invitation. 

In 1816 the interior was unwontedly disturbed. The first 
notice of the fact is indicated in the ^peculiar style of the 
Gazette of the period :— 

" The Black Natives of this Colony have for the last few 
weeks manifested a strange Hostility towards the Up-country 
Settlers, and in killing and driving away their Cattle than has 
been witnessed since the Settling of the Colony ; And since 
their visit to New Norfolk, they have been at the herd of 
Mr. Thomas M*Neelance near Jerico and killed two beautiful 
Cows." The New Norfolk affair arose from a quarrel between 
three stock-keepers and a score of Natives, when weapons 
were freely employed. Forty spears were thrown ; but evi- 
dently at a discreet distiance, for no Bushman was hurt. The 
shot told better, as three Blacks were killed, and one poor 
fellow was wounded and taken. 

The year 1817 was signalized by the romance of Michael 
Howe and the native girl Mary Cockerell. The desperate 
Bushranger, the terror of the colony for years, the partner of 
a treaty with the Governor, had formed a connection with 
this young creature, and dwelt with her for some months in 
a retreat not far from Oatlands, though afterwards removing 
for safety to a charming woodland home among the mountains 
of the Shannon country. There, chased closely by some who 
sought the great reward for his capture, and annoyed by the 
inability of his black companion to keep pace with him 
through the scrub, he drew a pistol and fired at her, severely 
wounding her. The ruffian escaped, but the girl was caught. 
Indignant at his cruelty, she promised to take the constables 
to his hut. This led eventually to his discovery and death. 
Poor Mary died in the Hobart Town Hospital. The paper 
mentions Michael Howe's increased cruelties to the poor 
Natives who fell in his way, on his retreat westward to the 
far interior. 

In New South Wales I found the copy of a letter sent by 
Governor Macquarie to his Lieutenant-Governor at Hobart 
Town, in which there is this interesting reference to Mary : — 

"In co-operation with your humane feelings in regard to 


by Google 



Mary, tbe nativo girl whom you - 
as a witness respecting tUa B' 
decent lodging provided for lu i 
BiiicQ remained out of the way or ■ 
intercourse, and she is now nlv,r,/ 
Hi« Excellency the<TOveiii ■ 
detain her here for some iiUlA^ ■ 
reuow Jier intercourse with J I 
protracting the term of hiB subti 

Governor Sorell issued n proemtt 
against the perpetrators of base m^ 
some inoffensive Ahoriginea. At ^ 
firing upon the poor creature:^, ■ 
**The Ueutenaut^GovenjoT thus \ 
minatiou that if, after the protmil 
any i^eraon or persons shall ho chfiT 
or coramitting any act of ontrai^p ^ ■ 
people, the offender or offeudeiv- 
to take their trial before the (Jim. 
A brighter page meets our eye 
Janus miglit have had its g-itt - 
breathed by the colony. A bun^ 
prevailod. The moral sentiments 
newspaper were^^strangely bronght 
is delivej'ed in the Gazette on / 
affecting appeal is made on behalf ■ 
ones of the forest. Let ns read H 
'* Notwithstanding the hostility ■ 
in the breast of the Natives of thi: 
-we now percmre with heartfelt -i 
aoine measure gradually subsiding, 
seen about this town and its envir " 
from the charitable and well-dii?pt' 
plate the peculiar situation of t! 
impressed with tlie great arre;u;i. 
them. Are not the Aborigines oi 
onr Government ? Are we not nil I 
they not miserable ? Can they i , 1 \. 
condition ? Or do tliej not chlfw 
that assistanee be deaied ? Tho 



by Google 

CHASE or shepherds; 33 

not make of one blood all the'nations upon the earth/ must 
be convinced that the Natives of whatever matter formed can 
be civilized, nay, can be christianized. The moral Governor 
of the world will hold us accountable. The Aborigines 
demand our protection. They are the most helpless members, 
and being such, have a peculiar claim upon us all, to extend 
every aid in our power, as well in relation to their necessities 
as to those enlightening means which shall at last introduce 
them fi'om the chilling rigours of the forest into the same 
delightful temperature which we enjoy." 

The calmness and serenity of that year changed to storm 
and trouble in 1819. It is the ever-told tale of provocation 
and revenge. Early in the month of March the Oyster Bay 
eastern tribe speared John Kemp and another man. But the 
journal of the day gives the provoking cause in these words : 
" It is well known that some time before Kemp was killed a 
native man was shot in the woods by some of the stockmen 
to the eastward, and that the women have been ajso deprived 
of their children in that quarter." 

In 1819 one Jones occupied the position of stock-keeper 
on the station of Messrs. Morris and Stocker, near EeUef 
River, subsequently known as the Macquarie. His fellow- 
servant, M*Candless, had gone to look after the sheep on the 
plains, and a neighbour's man, James Forrest, had called in 
at the hut. On a sudden, M*Candless burst in, nearly out of 
breath, declaring that he had run for his life from the Blacks, 
who were spearing the sheep. A chase was resolved upon, 
and two in&rm muskets were taken for the battle. The light 
of day was departing when the men came in sight of about 
two hundred Aborigines. They sought to frighten them 
from the hill, and presented their pieces at them. The men 
of the forest, with a wholesome dread of fire-arms, did not 
come down from their citadel to attack the Europeans, but 
were content with making a hideous noise, while some bolder 
spirits came forward, quivering their spears, and threatening 
destruction. But the stock-keepers suddenly ascertained, to 
their horror, that but one charge was in their possession, 
because the powder-flask had been dropped in the hurry of 
pursuit. They had but one way open — a retreat ; and this 
they accomplished in the deepening gloom of evening, with 
the best show of courage they could maintain. 


by Google 


would be increased one hundredfold. But so far from any 
systematic Plan for Destroying the Stock or People being 
pursued by the Native Tribes, their Meetings with the Herds- 
men appear generally to be accidental ; and it is the Opinion 
of the best informed Persons who have been longest in the 
Settlement, that the former are seldom the Assailants, and 
that when they are they act under the Impression of recent 
Injuries done to some of them by White People. It is 
undeniable that in many former Instances, Cruelties have 
been perpetrated repugnant to Humanity and disgraceful to 
the British Character, while few attempts can be traced on 
the Part of the Colonists to Conciliate the Native People, or 
to make them sensible that Peace and Forbearance are the 
Objects desired. The Impressions received from earlier 
Injuries are kept up by the occasional Outrages of Miscreants 
whose Scene of Crime is so remote as to render detection 
difficult, and who sometimes wantonly set fire to and kill the 
Men, and at others pursue the Women for the purpose of 
compelling them to abandon their children. This last Out- 
rage is perhaps the most certain of all to excite in the 
Sufferers a strong Thirst for revenge against all White Men, 
and to incite the Natives to take Vengeance indiscriminately, 
according to the General Practice of an uncivilized People, 
wherever in their Migrations they fall in with the Herds and 

"It is not only those who perpetrated such Enormities 
against a People comparatively Defenceless, that suflFer ; all 
the Owners of Stock and the Stock-keepers are involved in 
iihe Consequences brought on by the wanton and criminal 
Acts of a few. 

" From the conduct^of the Native People, when free from 
any feeling of Injury, toward those who have sought inter- 
course with them, there is strong reason to hope that they 
might be conciliated. On the North-east coast, where Boats 
occasionally touch, and at Macquarie Harbour, where the 
Natives have been lately seen, they have been found Unsus- 
picious and Peaceable, manifesting no disposition to Injure ; 
and they are known to be equally Inoffensive in other Places 
where the Stock-keepers treat them with Mildness and 

"A careful Avoidance, on the part of the Settlers and 


by Google 


Stockmen, of conduct tending to excite Suspicion of intended 
Injury, and a strict Forbearance from all Acts or Appear- 
ances of Hostility, except when rendered indispensable for 
positive Self-defence, or the Preservation of the Stock, may 
yet remove from the Minds of the Native People the Impres- 
sions left by past Cruelties : so that the Meetings between 
them and the Colonists, which the Extension of the Grazing 
Grounds and Progressive Occupation of the Country must 
render yearly more frequent, may be injurious to neither ; 
and that these Mischiefs, which a Perseverance in Ciaielty 
and Aggression must lead to, and which must involve the 
Stock in perpetual Danger, and the Stockmen in Responsi- 
bility for the Lives that may be lost, may be prevented. 

" To effect this Object, is no less the Interest than the 
Duty of the Settlers and Stockmen; to bring to condign 
Punishment any one who shall be open to proof of having 
destroyed or maltreated any of the Native People (not strictly 
in Self-defence), will be the Duty and is the Determination of 
the Lieutenant-Governor, supported by the Magistracy, and 
by the Assistance of all the just and well-disposed Settlers. 

*' With a view to prevent the Continuance of the Cruelty 
before-mentioned, of depriving the Natives of their Children ; 
it is hereby Ordered that the Resident Magistrates at the 
District of Pittwater and Coal River, and the District 
Constables in all the other Districts, do forthwith take an 
account of all the Native Youths and Children which are 
Resident with any of the Settlers or Stock-keepers, stating 
from wliom, and in what manner, they were obtained. 

" The same Magistrates and the District Constables are in 
future to take an Account of any Native Person or Child 
which shall come or be brought into their District, or Country 
adjoining, together with the circumstances attending it. 
These Reports are to be transmitted to the Secretary's Office, 
Hobart Town. 

" No Person whatever will be allowed to retain Possession 
of a Native Youth or Child, unless it shall be clearly proved 
that the Consent of the Parents had been given ; or that the 
Child had been found in a state to demand Shelter and Pro- 
tection, in which Case the Person into whose Hands it may 
fall, is immediately to report the circumstance to the nearest 
Magistrate or Constable. 


by Google 


" All Native Youths and Children who shall be known to 
be with any of the Settlers or Stock-keepers, unless so ac- 
counted for, will be removed to Hobart Town, where they 
will be supported and instructed at the Charge and under 
the Direction of Government. 

** By command of His Honor 

" The Lieutenant-Governor, 

"H. E. EoBiNSOK, Secretary,** 


Who could adequately picture the story of the wrongs of 
the Tasmauians? We are indignant at the destruction of 
the Guanches of the Canary Isles by the Spaniards ; we are 
horrified at the exterminating policy of the Napoleon of 
South African Zulus ; we are awestruck at the total disap- 
pearance of whole nations of antiquity ; and should we have 
no feeling of regret at causes which led to the annihilation 
of the tribes of Tasmania ] They melted not away as the 
snow of the Alps beneath the soft breath of the Fein from 
the South, but were stricken down in their might, as the 
dark firs of the forest by the ruthless avalanche. It was not 
a contest between rival nations of civilization. No senator 
uttered a " Carthage must be destroyed " to incite the faltering 
energies of a struggling people. No Thermopylae, which 
witnessed the expiring effort of its sons of freedom, remains 
in Tasmania's mountain fastnesses. No bard has chronicled 
the deeds of heroism, no Ossian told of chiefs and daughters 
fair. A lon^ series of cruelties and misfortunes gradually 
wrought the destruction of these primitive inhabitants. 

They would not, could not, be reduced to slavery. They 
would not, could not, assimikte with the habits of the in- 
truders upon their soil. As their own brilliant Waratah, 
when torn from the rocky crest of its mountain home, refuses 
to expand its crimson petals in the artificial bed, and pines to 
death for the loss of its free and bracing native airs, so could 
they never assume the rigid robe of civilization, nor forsake 
their wild, wooded Tiers for the tenements of town. 


by Google 


We came upon them as evil genii, and blasted them with 
the breath of our presence. We broke up their home circles. 
We arrested their laughing corrobory. We turned their song 
into weeping, and their mirth to sadness. Without being 
disciples of Eousseau, without the simple faith of the French 
voyager, who discovered a nymph of grace and beauty in the 
dark Our^ Our4 of the woods, and beheld primeval innocence 
in the gentle, patriarchal government of tribes, it may yet be 
believed that social virtues were developed beneath the gum- 
tree shade — that maternal joy sparkled in the eyes of the 
opossum-skin clad one, as she joined in the gambols of her 
piccaninny boy — that honest friendship united hands and 
hearts of brother hunters — while soft glances, sweet smiles, 
and throbbing bosoms, told that love could dwell within 
Clematis bowers, as well as in the woodbine shade. 

The white man entered this peaceful scene. Tlie hunter 
stayed his carolling among the hUls, and stole stealthily upon 
his own green sod. The mother hushed the tongue of the 
prattling one, and checked within herself the bounding emo- 
tions, lest Echo tell the dreaded stranger. And silenced was 
the talk of love ; for deeds of wrong to matron duty and to 
maiden troth had chilled the heart, and flashed the eye with 
hate and rage. 

The story of their sufferings would be like that written by 
the benevolent padre. Las Casas, in his * Short Account of 
the Destruction of the Indies,* which is thus described by 
the historian Prescott : " It is a tale of woe. Every line of 
the work may be said to be written in blood." And yet it 
may be truly declared that Government had cherished proper 
sentiments towards the poor Indians, for the historian ob- 
serves : ** The history of Spanish colonial legislation is the 
history of the impotent struggles of the Government in behalf 
of the Natives, against the avarice and cruelty of its subjects." 
In the case of our islanders, there was not the apology of 
avarice, as these had nothing to give ; it was rather a ba I 
propensity to injure the defenceless, and an insatiable lust, 
that would at all risks obtain its brutal gratification. 

One great source of mischief was the liberty given to the 
prisoners, about the year 1806, to disperse themselves in search 
of kangaroos, during a season of famine. We can readily 
imagine the effect of letting loose in the Bush a number of 


by Google 


reckless bad men, who had been previously subjected to the 
rigour of prison discipline. 

At first kindly treated by the dark men of the forest, they 
repaid their hospitality by frightful deeds of violence and 
wrong. Shrieks of terrified and outraged innocence rose with 
the groans of slaughtered guardians, in the hitherto peaceful 
vales of Tasmania. One wonders not at the quotation of the 
Rev. John West, from the Derwent Star newspaper of 1810 : 
"The Natives, who have been rendered desperate by the 
cruelties they have experienced from our people, have now 
begun to distress us by attacking our cattle.'' One extract 
from the Star of the same year, 1810, painfully illustrates 
the subject : " The unfortunate man, Eussell, is a striking 
instance of Divine agency, which has overtaken him at last, 
and punished him by the hands of those very people who 
have suffered so much from him ; he being known to have 
exercised his barbarous disposition in murdering or torturing 
any who unfortunately came within his reach." The indig- 
nation of honest old Governor Davey was strongly excited, 
when in 1813 he penned these words : " That he could not 
have believed that British subjects would have so ignomini- 
ously stained the honour of their country and themselves, as 
to have acted in the manner they did towards the Aborigines." 

Governor Arthur was]much shocked at the barbarity of his 
people, and unable to prevent the eviL Immediately after 
his arrival in the colony, a tribe applied to him for protection, 
and it was readily granted. All that personal attention and 
kindness could do was done to retain them near Hobart Town, 
and to secure them from insult and injury. They settled at 
Kangaroo Point, a tongue of land separated from the town by 
the broad estuary of the Derwent. There they stayed quietly 
and happily for a couple of years, when a savage murder was 
committed by some of their white neighbours, and the camp 
broke up immediately for the haunts of wildness. 

The infamous treatment of the poor females was the exciting 
cause of the bitter and revengeful spirit manifested by the 
Blacks toward our race. It was not alone that these unfor- 
tunates were the victims of their passions, but the objects 
of their barbarity. If perchance a woman was decoyed to the 
shepherd's hut, no gentleness of usage was employed to win 
her regard, and secure her stay ; threatening language, the 


by Google 


lash, and the chain were the harsher expedients of his savage 
love. A story is told by Dr. Eoss, describing his journey up 
to the Shannon in 1823. "We met," said he, " one of Mr. 
Lord's men sitting on the stump of a tree, nearly starved to 
death. He told ns that three days before, a black woman 
whom he had caught, and had chained to a log with a 
bullock-chain, and whom he had dressed with a fine linen 
shirt (the only one he had), in hopes, as he said, to tame her, 
had contrived somehow to slip the chain from her leg, and 
ran away, shirt and all." The doctor adds, " I fear his object 
in chaining the poor creature was not exactly pure and disin- 
terested." The reader will not be surprised to hear that not 
long after this gentle lover was hanged for exercising his 
benevolence upon some of his own countrymen. We hear of 
another who, having caught an unhappy girl, sought to 
relieve her fears, or subdue her sulks, as it was termed, by 
first giving her a morning's flogging with a bullock-whip, and 
then fastening her to a tree near his hut until he returned in 
the evening. The same fellow was afterwards found speared 
to death at a water hole. 

A settler on the Esk river informed me that a neighbour 
of his, wanting a gin^ asked him to accompany him on his 
Sabine expedition. He had heard that a woman had been 
seen with a small party on an island in the river, and was 
then on his way thither to seize her. He pointed exultingly 
to a bullock-chain which he carried, as the means of capture. 
I was struck with the criticism of an " Old Hand," a rough 
carter, but one who carried a kind heart beneath a bear's 
skin. We were talking of the former times, and of the 
cruelty practised upon the blacks, especially in the stealing 
of their women. With no particular admiration for the dark 
people, some of whom had tried their spears upon his body, 
he had a sense of manliness within him, and thus expressed 
his opinion : " If a man was to run away with my wife, don't 
you think if I could fall in with him that I wouldn't crack 
his head for him ] I would so" 

Old Tom Ward, who was transported in 1818, and who 
gave me some striking records of the past, said that when up 
the country in 1820, the stock -keepers at Mr. Stocker's, of 
Salt Pan Plains, were guilty of abominable conduct toward 
two Native women. These afterwards told their Coolies op 


by Google 


husbands, and the tribe surrounded the hut, and killed two 
men out of the three. Instances are upon record of murders 
committed solely with the view of seizing upon the females 
of a Mob. A lady once told me of a man-servant of hers 
getting speared aftier offering some insult to a gin. He 
narrowly escaped with his life, being long confined to the 
hut. Eepeated cases were known of brutal stock-keepers 
and shepherds emasculating the males. HoiTor-stricken by 
tales of men such as these, the benevolent Quaker, Mr. James 
Backhouse, exclaimed, " They were of such a character, as 
to remove any wonder at the determination of these injured 
people to try to drive from their land a race of men, among 
whom were persons guilty of such deeds.'* 

The Bushrangers of Van Diemen*s Land were sore foes to 
the Aborigines, from a natural cruelty of disposition, and 
from a fancied fear of their divulging the site of their brigand 
retreat. Lemon and others, when in a merry mood, bound 
them to trees, and used them as targets for practice. It was 
an ex-Bushranger who confessed to me that he would " as 
leave shoot them as so many sparrows." Another worthy, 
who had above fifty years before left his country for his 
country's good, declared to me that he heard from a friend of 
Michael Howe, that that celebrated ruffian would lay down 
his musket to induce the blacks to come toward him, but 
that on their approach he would fire at them from his retreat, 
pulling the trigger with his toes. The Bushranger Dunn 
carried off Native women to his lair, and cruelly abused them. 
So exasperated were the men against the Whites, on account 
of the cruelty of that wretched outlaw, that they murdered 
several of the neighbouring and inoffensive settlers. Mr. 
Melville, long connected with the press of Tasmania, has the 
following story in his sketch of the country. " The Bush- 
ranger Carrots killed a black fellow, and seized his gin ; then 
cutting off the man's head, the brute fastened it round the 
wife's neck, and drove the weeping victim to his den." The 
Bushranger Dunn was very cruel to the Natives. A letter, 
in 1815, blames the Bushrangers as the great cause of the 
Aborigines not mixing with the settlers. 

A respectable colonist, lately deceased in Melbourne, 
naming many instances of cruelty to the Natives, assured me 
that he knew of two men who had boasted of killing thirty 


by Google 


at one time. Mr. Backhouse relates'^that one party, out after 
the Blacks, killed thirty in capturing eleven. Quamby's 
Bluif, an eastern spur of the great central highlands of the 
island, curling up with its crest as if torn by violence from 
the Tier, was so called from a poor hunted creature there 
falling upon his knees, and shrieking out, " Quamby ! 
Quamby ! — mercy ! mercy ! " A gentleman, many years a 
magistrate in these colonies, mentioned to me the death of a 
shepherd of his near the Macquarie River. Soon after a 
company of soldiers went in pursuit of the supposed mur- 
derers. Falling in with a tribe around their night-fires, in a 
gully at the back of the river, they shot indiscriminately at 
the group. Many were slain, but no Government inquiry 
was made into the well-known circumstance. An eye-witness 
of a similar night attack has this description : ** One man 
was shot ; he sprang up, turned round like a whipping-top, 
and fell dead. The party then went up to the fires, found a 
great number of waddies and spears, and an infant sprawling 
on the ground, which one of the party pitched into the fire." 

No more illustrative proof of the manners of that dark era 
can be presented, than we find recorded in the history of 
Jorgenson, when out in 1826 : " Two days after I saw Scott," 
says he, " a large tribe came down to Dr. Thomson's hut, 
which was occupied by three assigned servants. These men 
struck a bargain with some of the Blacks for some of their 
women, and in return to give them some blankets and sugar. 
However, no sooner were the females on their way to join 
their tribe, than the servants sallied out, and deprived them 
of their ill-gotten store. The Aborigines, nearly one hundred 
in number, now exceedingly exasperated, surrounded the hut, 
and had certainly effected their revenge, either by burning 
down the hut, or otherwise killing the aggressors, had not 
the Bushranger Dunn come to their timely assistance. Being 
so disappointed, the Blacks, in the heat of resentment, fell in 
with poor aged Scott, and murdered him in a most barbarous 
manner." This Scott had heretofore been on the most 
friendly terms with the natives, and his dreadful end will 
furnish the key to many apparently inexplicable murders of 
innocent people, even women and children, by the Abori- 
gines, when the two races were afterwards in frequent 


by Google 


In treating of this subject, I feel with Dr. Coke, writer of 
a work on the Natives of the "West Indies, that " the author 
who records their miseries will be almost deemed an incredible 
writer ; and while his narrative will be perused with astonish- 
ment, it will perhaps be associated with the marvellous, and 
consigned to the shelves of romance." The catalogue, though 
one of horrors, is too important to be altogether passed by. 
A few stories are here strung together « without attention to 
order of time. 

In July 1827 a man was killed by the Blacks up in the 
country, near the Western Tiers. He had been long familiar 
with the tribe, having before lived for some years among the 
Natives of New Holland, but had incurred the displeasure of 
the Tasmanians at last. The neighbouring settlers gathered 
together for a chase after the criminals, and took revenge 
indeed for the death of one man ; for the Colonial Tiin^s 
declares : " They report that there must be about sixty of 
them killed and wounded." 

A party of the Eichmond police were passing through the 
Bush in 1827, when a tribe, seeing them, got up on a hill 
and threw stones upon them. The others fired in return, and 
then charged them with the bayonet. We have Mr. G. A. 
Robinson's authority for stating that " a party of military and 
constables got a number of natives between two perpendicular 
rocks, on a sort of shelf, and killed seventy of them, dragging 
the women and children from the crevices of the rocks, and 
dashing out their brains" 

A wretched man, named Ibbens, was accustomed to go 
persistently after the Eastern tribe with a double-barrelled 
gun, creeping among them at dusk, until he had killed the 
half of them. One man boasted that he had thrown an old 
woman upon the fire, and burnt her to death. The Colonial 
Times speaks on one occasion of a party of soldiers and others 
approaching within thirty yards of their night-fires, and 
killing " an immense quantity of the blacks." Well might 
Dr. Marshall tell Lord Glenelg, ** The murders which, at 
almost every page, have blotted with blood the history of the 
British Colonies, cry out against us unto the Most High God, 
with a voice that has not always been unanswered, for 
national calamity to succeed national wickedness." 

Many years ago I fell in with one of the lowest order of 


by Google 


convicts, who assured me that he liked to" kill a black fellow 
better than smoke his pipe ; adding, '' and I am a rare one at 
that, too." He related the following adventure. Out one 
evening with some armed stock-keeping mates, he climbed 
Maloney's Sugar Loaf, and saw a tribe lighting their fires for 
the night. He returned with the news. Then, abstaining 
from noise and supper-fire themselves, they waited till just 
before dawn, advanced toward their unsuspicious victims in 
a crescent line, so as to cut off retreat, and fired close. He 
quietly remarked : " There wasn't many of them got off." I 
dissembled a little, and in an off-hand way inquired how 
many he had cleared off. He shook the stump of his ampu- 
tated arm, smiled archly at me, and said, " No — no — that's 
not a fair question." 

Dr. ]N'ixf)n, Bishop of Tasmania, is forced to say of such 
scenes : " There are many such on record, which make us 
blush for humanity when we read them, and forbid us to 
wonder that the maddened savages' indiscriminate fury should 
not only have refused to recognize the distinction between 
friend and foe, but have taught him to regard each white man 
as an intruding enemy, who must be got rid of at any cost." 

My worthy friend Mr. Shoobridge, a much-respected Tas- 
manian colonist, is my authority for the story of a sad tragedy. 
Two men went out shooting birds. Some Natives, seeing them 
approach, hastily fled. A woman, far advanced in pregnancy, 
unable to run with the rest, climbed up a tree, and broke 
down the branches around her for concealment. But she 
had been observed by the sportsmen. One of these proposed 
to shoot her, but the other objected. The first, however, 
dropped behind, and fired at the unfortunate creature. A 
fearful scream was heard, and a premature birth took place. 
That very day the wife and child of this monster were crossing 
the Derwent, when a sudden squall upset the boat, and both 
were drowned. 

The same informant also, told me that, when young, a 
fellow gave him an account of some capital fun, as it was 
called. He and some others took advantage of a robbery at 
Hamilton, and charged it upon an inoffensive tribe in the 
neighbourhood. Without warning, an expedition was fitted 
out in the night, and a terrible slaughter took place. The 
miserable remnant were infuriated at the treachery and 


by Google 


cruelty, and revenged themselves by years of outrage and 
murder. Mr. Shoobridge*s father was dining with a country 
settler, when a man came in, and called out, " Well, Master 1 
IVe shot three more crows to-day,*' — meaning, Blacks, 

The historian of Tasmania, Rev. Mr. West, did not exag- 
gerate when he wrote : " The wounded were brained -, the 
infant cast into the flames ; the musket was driven into the 
quivering flesh ; and the social fire, around which the Natives 
gathered to slumber, became, before morning, their funeral 
Jile.*' The Conner of June 1 1, 1836, admits that ** thousands 
were hunted down like wild beasts, and actually destroyed." 
llie learned Dr. Broca, the distinguished French ethnologist, 
asserts that the English " have committed upon the Tasmanian 
race, and that in the nineteenth century, execrable atrocities 
a hundred times less excusable than the hitherto unrivalled 
crimes of which the Spaniards were guilty in the sixteenth 
century in the Antilles." 

The public mind gets callous by the continuance of scenes 
of blood, as the history of the French Revolution testifies* 
For the character of our colonies, we could wish that such a 
paragraph as the following, in the year 1826, had never seen 
the light : " Let them have enough of Redcoats and bullet 
fare. For every man they murder, hunt them down, and 
drop ten of them. This is our specific— try it." The feeling 
is truly exhibited in the statement of the paper of Dec. 1, 
1826, that "the settlers and stock-keepers are determined to 
annihilate every Black who may act hostilely." The cruelty 
took an indirect turn with some of these out-station people. 
Thus, Captain Holman talks about a fellow taking a pair of 
pistols, one only of which was loaded, and seeking to amuse 
a native by firing the harmless one at his own ear. Then, 
presenting the other weapon to the man, and inviting him to 
try the same funny performance on himself, he had the grim 
delight of seeing the black fellow's brains blown out. 

Let us turn, for relief, to a pleasing story of 1822. A tribe 
had lighted their evening fires in the Bush not far from a 
field of corn ready to cut, and the flames were carried by a 
liigh wind toward the farm. The farmer writes : " We were 
doing our best to extinguish it by beating the flames out with 
green boughs, but our efforts would have been in vain had 
not the whole tribe of Blacks all at once come forward to 


by Google 


assiei me. Even some hours afterwards, when the flames 
again broke out in two or three places, they were on the alert 
in a moment to put them out. I mention this incident, as 
it was an act of friendship on their part, and shows that 
when they have not been insulted, or had cause of revenge, 
and are able to discriminate their friends from their foes, 
they are not wanting to reciprocate ofl&ces of friendship and 

The Rev. Dr. Lang, in his indignant letter to Earl Durham, 
narrates a terrible story. " A spot," said he, " was pointed 
out to me a few years ago in the interior of the island, where 
seventeen of these had been shot in cold blood. They had 
been bathing, in the heat of a summer's day, in the deep pool 
of a river, in a sequestered and romantic glen, when they 
were suddenly surprised by a party of armed colonists who 
had secured the passes, and I believe not one of them v as 
left to tell the tale. Nay, a convict Bushranger in Van 
Diemen's Land, who was hanged a few years ago for crimes 
committed against the European inhabitants of the colony, 
confessed, when under sentence of death, that he had actually 
been in the habit of shooting the black Natives to feed 
his dogs." 

Cruelties to the poor females have already been mentioned. 
Mrs. Guy, of New Norfolk, gave me a proof of attempted 
ruffianism in her day. Once when standing by her door she 
saw a native woman, pursued by three Englishmen, run to 
the high bank, leap into the Derwent, and swim across the 
broad stream. The benevolent lady hastened down to the 
poor creature, and found her much agitated with fear, and 
trembling violently. Taking her home, she gave her some 
warm tea, and bound a blanket around her. The husband 
came afterwards to thank the lady, and voluntarily cut up a 
lot of firewood in her yard as a return of gratitude. Capt. 
Stokes informs the readers of his valuable work on Australian 
Discovery, that a convict servant confessed this cruelty to a 
captured gin : "He kept the poor creature chained up like a 
wild beast, and, whenever he wanted her to do anything, 
applied a burning stick, a firebrand snatched from the hearth, 
to her skin." 

It is a small satisfaction to be told that other nations have 
been as bad as ourselves : that a million of Caribs in Hispaniola 


by Google 


were reduced by the Spaniards to sixty thousand in fifteen 
years ; that, according to Las Casas, fifteen millions of Indians 
perished at their hands ; or that, as Cotton Mather reports of 
the English American Colonies : " Among the early settlers, 
it was considered a religious act to kill Indians." Some 
Spaniards made a vow to God to burn or hang every morning, 
for a certain time, thirteen Indians ; one was to be in com- 
pliment to the Saviour, and the others to the twelve Apostles. 
A Spanish priest, as Vega relates, seeing some Peruvians 
destroy themselves rather than work in the mines, thus 
addressed the others : " You wish to hang yourselves, my 
friends, rather than labour ; seeing this, I shall hang myself 
first ; but I must warn you of one thing, which is this, that 
there are mines in the other world as well as in this ; and I 
give you my word that I will make you work throughout 
eternity." Upon this the Indians threw themselves at his 
feet, and begged him not to kill himself. 

There is a degree of simplicity of selfish injustice, in the 
following quotations from the diary of one of the early Dutch 
governors of the Cape Colony : — 

" December 3, 1652. — To-day, the Hottentots came with 
thousands of cattle and sheep close to our fort. We feel 
vexed to see so many fine herd of cattle, and not be able to 
buy to any considerable extent. With 150 men, 10,000 head 
of black cattle could be obtained without the danger of losing 
one man, and many savages might be taken without resistance, 
in order to be sent as slaves to India, as they still always 
come to us unarmed." 

Commandoes of Dutch Boers against the native races were 
common enough. Even as recently as 1832, Lord Somerset 
had great difficulty in arresting the march of a party that had 
started for the destruction of a settlement of 5000 Christian 
Hottentots, on the Kat river. 

It is painful to add this sorrow of the Eace, that while the 
English Government in Van Diemen*s Land issued paternal 
proclamations, and uttered sentiments of profound compassion 
for the Aborigines, little effectual energy was exerted to 
repress and punish crimes against them. The Hohart Town 
Times of April, 1836, is harsh, but not unjust, in the 
following sentences : — 

** They have been murdered in cold blood. They have been 


by Google 

Digitized by VaOOQlC 



by Google 


shot in the woods, and hunted down as beasts of prey. Their 
women have been contaminated, and then had their throats 
cut, or been shot, by the British residents, who would fain 
call themselves civilized people. The Government, too, by 
the common hangman, sacrificed the lives of such of the 
Aborigines as in retaliation destroyed their wholesale mur- 
derers, and the Government, to its shame be it recorded, in 
no one instance, on no single occasion, ever punished, or 
threatened to punish, the acknowledged murderers of the 
aboriginal inhabitants." 


The " Black War of Van Diemen's Land " was a natural 
sequel to the events previously chronicled. The outraged 
Tasmanians were a bold and independent race, resenting an 
injury, though very feebly provided with means for avenging 
it. Their weapons were only sticks, whose wooden points were 
hardened in the fire, and waddies, which were rude clubs. 
They contended vnth. men armed with guns and steel. Like 
all weak people, however brave, they depended more upon 
taking their foes at a disadvantage, than meeting them in 
the open field. They could come upon the lone hut in the 
wilds, could waylay the solitary bushman, could set fire to 
an ill-protected dwelling. If these are barbarous modes of 
warfare, they are similarly akin to civilized ones. 

And yet, to the great honour of these poor savages, be it 
recorded, they were content to fight with men. Not a single 
instance in early days is recorded of the outrage of a white • 
woman, and women and children were then very rarely 
killed. In our bombardments the weaker sex and little 
ones do not escape so easily. 

It is charged against them that, in their fury, they often 
attacked the wrong party. When our frigates go to avenge 
a murder by natives, without inquiry as to the individual 
criminals or cause of outrage, the shots are directed against 
the village and the whole tribe. If civilized and Christian 
warriora act so, is it wonderful that heathen savages, per- 
sonally injured, and not paid to slaughter, should fail to 
discriminate, and confound all who belong to the hated race. 

Mr. Clark, Catechist to the remnant of the tribes, in a 


Digitized by VjOOQ IC 



letter to me, has this remark : — " They did much mischief 
prior to their removal from Van Diemen's Land, but it was 
from a feeling of retaliation, and also their imagining the 
Whites to be a distinct race of beings, against whom they 
were bound to make war after the first outbreak was pro- 
duced." The Aborigines' Protection Committee of Hobart 
Town reported that " the injuries and insults which tKe 
Aborigines had received from dissolute characters had led 
them to a certain extent, in addition to their savage spirit, 
to wreak indiscriminate vengeance." 

Colonel Arthur had a firm hand and a clear eye. As a 
Governor, he had difficulties beyond another. He was on 
the border of two ages. There was the past of convict 
discipline, and there was the future of free settlement. The 
rougher element had to be curbed by strong laws. The 
rising tide of intelligence and freedom was preparing to 
remove despotic obstructiveness. Bushranging violence was 
his trial on the one side, and the impatient cry of a chained 
press was his trouble on the other. His cup of disquietude 
was filled to the brim by the Native difficulty. 

A Proclamation in June, 1824, rebuked the "settlers and 
others" who destroyed the tribesmen, then under British 
protection. An injury to them, said he, " shall be visited 
with the same punishment as though committed on the 
person and property of any other." 

Words, words, and nothing more. The Blacks could not 
rely upon them, and the Whites laughed at them. It was 
well known that a native witness would not be heard. 

Another Government Notice appeared, !N"ovember 29th, 
1826. His Excellency regretted the failure of his efforts 
at conciliation. But the attacks of the wild men must be 
repressed. If they show themselves in numbers, if they 
seem as though bent on some mischief, **any person may 
arm " to drive them away. Warrants are to be issued against 
known offenders. Force is to be used in the capture. 

The law was vigorously enforced — against the Blacks, 
But while these were being shot down, or hanged, the 
Governor was protesting that he would " protect the Abori- 
gines of the colony from injury or annoyance," even to 
the " severest penalties which the law may prescribe." 

What colour were they % The legal fiction supposed them 


by Google 


white ;. holding that they were His Majesty's subjects, amen- 
able to law, having a common right with Europeans to all 
the protection that law can afford. But they found them- 
selves anything but white in reality. As nominal subjects, 
they could be treated as others if transgressing the statutes. 
It is true, they had never been consulted as to the adoption 
of British rule, had never been told that they were subjects 
of King George, had never been taught the duties of such 
a position, nor warned of what they should not do. 

But they did understand the loss of freedom % The fairest 
parts of their country, most abounding in game and wild 
fruits, were in the possession of strangers, who drove them 
off as trespassers. They might take up their quarters in 
the stormy west, in the cloudland of rocks, in the silence 
of dense scrub, in any barren, in any inclement region not 
wanted by the Whites. When thus robbed of natural 
supplies of food, they were free to pine in famine ; but to 
touch an animal feeding on pastures once held by kangaroos 
was a crime, and a crime resented by bullets. Except they 
dwelt with eagles on mountain-tops, they were liable to 
come in contact with white men. On the outskirts of 
civilization are ever found the rougher characters of our 
race. At a distance from authority, license prevails. Ee- 
moved from moral agencies, the tendency is downward, and • 
the passions have freer course. Borderers are seldom saints. 
The very absence of women, however coarse and degraded 
they may be^ removes the last barrier to propriety among 
the reputed civilized. The prevalence of crime in this outer 
fringe of society is well recognized all over the world. 

Now, in Van Diemen's Land, that fringe was largely 
composed of convict servants, ex-convict hunters, and a 
floating community of cattle-stealers, bushrangers, and run- 
away prisoners. With these, and these alone, the poor 
natives would be immediately in contact, if at any time 
compelled to retreat from inhospitable hills and forests. 
Would the association be safe or happy] The weapons 
provided for the cHase or protection could be turned against 
them. The lawlessness of passion would seek gratification 
in native women, and too often accompanied with cruelty. 
Mere love of sport would drive shot among the naked ones. 
If the stealing of a lubra brought her husband, father or 

B 2 


by Google 


brother to the rescue, it meant present murder, and future 
revenge. Whatever good there was in the native, such ill 
circumstances checked its growth ; while all the. evil would 
receive ample exercise. 

Did the Tasmanian find the vaunted protection, or realize 
fair play from the law ] 

With the worst class, there was open war, and no quarter. 
But if near a settlement a wrong were done by either side, 
was justice meted out in due proportion ] When flour was 
stolen by one of the tribe, was the ofibnder treated as a 
subject? When a settler's servant was speared, was the 
captured murderer allowed the trial privileges of a subject? 
When the dark deed was done by the White, was the 
evidence of the subject, if a Black, ever accepted ] Is it 
any wonder that the poor creatures felt, with such anoma- 
lies, that in the eyes of British law they were neither white 
nor black. 

The times were, unhappily, far from merciful. Men in 
authority were annoyed at the complaints of settlers, exposed 
to the attacks of bushrangers, and were blamed by the 
Colonial OflBce for lack of discipline. Executions were 
common among the limited population of the island. At 
one sitting of the judges thirty-seven persons were sentenced 
to the scaffold. If so little was then thought of the hang- 
ing of Whites, would the shooting of Blacks be much 
considered ? 

The white-skinned British Islander seems to have a revul- 
sion of feeling against any coloured people. In India, a 
young or petty English official will speak of an educated and 
a refined Hindoo, with forty centuries of civilized ancestors, 
as a Nigger. When the Maories, after they had become 
Christianized, engaged in arms against us, this was the counsel 
of a New Zealand paper : — " What are we to do with these 
bloodthirsty rebels % These men must be shown no mercy. 
They should be treated as wild beasts, hunted down, and 
slain. It does not matter what means are employed, so long 
as the work is done efEectually. Head-money, blood-money, 
killing by contract ; any of these means may be adopted.'* 

Such was the feeling of a Christian Englishman towards 
the Brown men. Well might a Secretary for the Colonies 
exclaim in a despatch : — ^** With a view to the protection of 


by Google 


the Natives, the most essential step is to correct the temper 
and tone adopted toward them hy the settlers." 

The wars continued. Eight-minded citizens were shocked. 
But one remedy remained for trial. The tribes, now scattered 
over the island, were all to be driven away from the located 
districts, and forced back to the more inaccessible regions. 
A lATie of Demarcation was appointed. %■ Across- that they 
were not to come. In that cheerless western clime of ever- 
lasting rain or frost ; that region of vast mountains, dreary 
morasses, and almost lifeless solitudes ; a locality not sought 
by colonists, and nearly deserted by native fowl and quad- 
^ ruped — ^there were the dark-skinned race to dwell, banished 
from their summer home, their richer hunting-grounds, and 
far from the graves of their fathers. 

All barbarous nations have their boundaries. Trespassing 
upon a neighbouring tribe's domain, unless permitted, was 
an occasion for war. The Demarcation Act thrust all the 
tribes pell mell upon each other. No distinction was made. 
And yet the very preamble of the Proclamation of April 15th, 
1828, indicates clearly the occasion of all the mischief: — 

" Whereas, and since the primary Settlement of the 
country, various acts of aggression, violence, and cruelty 
have been, from different causes, committed on the Aboriginal 
Inhabitants of this Island, by Subjects of His Majesty." 

These wrongs are described, as well as the predatory incur- 
sions upon Settlers. The Governor declares his intention, 
for the safety of both parties, and with the hope of inducing 
the Natives to adopt habits of labour, " to regulate and re- 
strain the intercourse between the Whites and the Coloured 
Inhabitants of this Colony." The latter were to be " ex- 
pelled by force from all the therein districts," if not per- 
svLoded to retire. Military posts were to be established along 
the Line of Demarcation. Once a year, however, for a brief 
season, the poor creatures might procure official passports to 
enable them to gather shellfish on the eastern coast. 

Posters were duly stuck on gum trees in the forest, giving 
these particulars. Yet what did the Blacks know of a pass- 
port % Would they be ready to come and ask for it ] Were 
they sure that the gentle shepherd of the plains would respect 
the Proclamation or the passport ? 

The British Ministry urged the Governor to use no 


by Google 


tmnecessaiy harshness in driving back the people. For all 
this, matters went on as usual. Murders and outrages con- 
tinued. The Natives were still at large. What could be 
done 1 Only issue a fresh Proclamation. 

On the first of November, 1828, men read on the official 
poster, that " It seems at present impossible to conciliate the 
several tribes of that people." Even the order for them to 
retire to the gameless solitudes did not cmiciliate them. And 
so " Martial Law " was proclaimed against all Blacks found 
anjnvhere but in these localities, namely, the scrub to the 
southwest, Bruni Island, Tasman's Peninsula, the rocky 
north-west comer, and all westward of the Huon river and 
the Western Bluff. 

As Van Diemen's Land had no proper survey in those 
days, it would have been impossible for colonists to note 
some of these boundaries, much less the dark kangaroo 
hunter. The absurdity was thus shown by a Hobart Town 
paper, in the fomi of an imaginary dialogue between the 
Governor and Tom, an aborigine brought up among Whites 
from childhood : 

Tom, — " A'nt your stock-keeper bein' a kill plenty black 
fellow ] 

Governor, — " But your countrymen kill people that never 
did them any harm — they even kill wom'en and children. 

Tom, — "Well, a'nt that all same's white unl A'nt he 
kill plenty black un, a woman, and little picaninny too ] 

Governor. — " But you know, Tom, I want to be friendly 
and kind to them, yet they would spear me if they met me. 

Tom (laughiug). — " How he tell you make a friend along 
him % A'nt he all same a white un ) 'Pose black un kill 
Tirhite fellow, a'nt you send all your soddier, all your con- 
stable after him 1 You say, that black a devil kill a nurra 
white man ; go — catch it — kill it — a'nt he then kill all black 
fellow he see, all picaninny too ? A'nt dat all same black 
fellow — a'nt you been a take him own kangaroo ground? 
How den he like % " 

Tom laughed most immoderately on hearing the proclam- 
ation read, particularly at the idea of the tribes applying for 
passports to travel through the settled districts. 

Tom says — ^ You been a make a proflamation — ha ! ha ! 
ha ! I never see dat foolish (meaning, I never saw anything 


by Google 


SO foolish). When he see dat 1 He can't read ; who tell 

Governor, — " Can*t you tell him, Tom ? 

Tom, — **No ! me like see you tell him yourself; he very 
soon spear me ! " 

It was admitted at last by the official mind that as Blacks 
could not read the posters, and no White fellow would risk 
his life in explaining the contents to the spearmen, that the 
Demarcation Order was useless. 

A grand expedient was then to be tried. Kobody doubted 
that the Natives had excellent eyesight, were quick of dis- 
cernment, and were possessed of some imaginative power. 
As we Europeans are so impressed by pictures, how much 
more would the children of the forest be! Because the 
printer failed to make himself understood, let the painter try 
his art. 

And what was the daub to be about ] 

It should declare that the Governor loved his black sub- 
jects as well as his white ones ; that he longed for Blacks 
and Whites to be loving each other ; that he would hang 
the murderers of the Natives not less than the slaughterers 
of Europeans. Deal boards, after undergoing the operation 
of colouring — blazing in red, white, and black — were to be 
suspended in the Bush for the edification of wanderers. 

The displayed Pictorial Proclamation tells this pretty tale. 
It is copied from the illustrated boarding found under the 
floor of old Government House, in Macquarie Street, opposite 
Elizabeth Street, when the building was beiug pulled down 
many years ago. 

This was not the only time on which this primitive mode 
of communication was practised. The Surveyor-General, in 
1830, sent by the hand of a semi-civilized Aborigine a sketch 
to show his countrymen. In one part, redcoats were firuig 
upon the naked foresters ; in another, w:ell-clothed Natives 
were receiving food from white friends. The moral is 
obvious — to U8. 

A new departure next took place. All Blacks who would 
not keep the bounds were to be caught and brought in by 
persons duly authorized for the task, and paid according to 
the system of results. The Order was issued toward the 


by Google 


close of 1828, and was in force for several years afterwards. 
A reward of five pounds was offered for the capture of an 
adult, two pounds for a child. " Capture parties," as they 
were termed, were thus originated. There were promises of 
grants of land to successful capturers. The Governor thought 
he could by this means put an end to the evil, and with the 
least cost of life. 

For a time the plan seemed to work well, as country 
settlers enjoyed a sense of security unknown for years before. 
His Excellency was delighted at the agreeable prospect of 
peace. But all at once the war broke out more fiercely 
than ever. 

When a vessel is caught in a cyclone, and whirled onward 
awhile in the rushing storm, it appears to come suddenly out 
of the strife, beneath a placid portion of the heavens, and 
rides quite in tranquillity. Yet soon it is seized again by the 
waltzing tornado, and borne along the destructive cycloid 
curve in maddening fury. So was it with this J^ative 
trouble. The temporary calmness preceded a renewed con- 
vulsion. The slnmbering anger of the tribes awoke in a 
series of attacks upon out-stations and solitary individuals, as 
excited the utmost alarm throughout the country. 

Colonel Arthur promptly answered the appeal for succour. 
Another Proclamation came forth, breathing fire and death. 
This was intended for Whites to read. As the Natives 
would not accept his conditions, and be content quietly to 
die of cold and hunger in the sterile wilderness; — as they 
used their sanctioned retreats as fortresses from which sorties 
were made against their foes, to which, also, they fled upon 
the commission of a crime ; — and as it was so difficult to dis- 
criminate the guilty, — Martial Law was to be in force 
against all in every part of the island, saving those few 
known to be dwelling with the Europeans. Such Martial 
Law existed till October 24, 1833. 

To whatever extent provoked by wrongs of long standing, 
it must be allowed that the Wild Men were no contemptible 
enemies. A few hundreds only against the thousands, with 
pointed sticks against fire-arms, they made so bold a stand, 
returned such blows for blows, that had they been called 
Highlanders of European clime, their heroism would have 
given subjects for poets' lays, and in their final fall had 


by Google 


honour from their very victors. But they happened to he 
mere naked forest-runners of Van Diemen's Land. Their 
attacks were called outrages; the lives taken were styled 
murders. The British attacks on them were known as 
2Jolice measures ; the deaths from their arm were Justifiable 
homicides. Infamy is, after all, attached more to the names 
of deeds than to the deeds themselves. 

And yet the Blacks were timid before a courageous front. 
Old Kemp told me that in 1821 he saw about three hundred 
of them, poking, as he called it, after bandicoots. Alarmed 
at the number, he started his dogs at them ; and, upon the 
flight of the hunters, he cleared off hastily himself. 

In one of my Australian rambles I fell in with an " Old 
Hand," who had thoroughly redeemed his character, having, 
been then for above twenty years a consistent member of 
the Wesleyan Church. The conviction of this man was 
similar to others — that the Natives were not the aggressors. 
He had lived under the Western Tier for three or four years 
without molestation, though constantly moving about the 
Bush after stock. Frequently has he come upon their recent 
tracks, and must have been the object of their observation, 
without catching sight of any. When aroused to fury at 
last, the tribe acted as others had done previously, committing 
atrocious and indiscriminate slaughter. Missing his shepherd- 
mate one day, he entered upon a search, and came upon his 
body pierced with several spears. His fears were excited on 
behalf of a poor sick shepherd, who lay in a hut belonging 
to a Mr. Bryant. Collecting a party of neighbours, he made 
a hasty run to the spot. When about 300 yards from the 
hut, they met Mr. Bryant running rapidly with torn dress. 
From him they learned that the Blacks arrived there soon 
after he came to visit his sick servant ; that, after forcibly 
breaking off the ends of spears, thrust at him through the 
window, he had made a desperate rush through the mob, 
and had thus escaped. The rescuers went on to the hut. 
Not a Black was to be seen. They entered, and found their 
friend in his last agonies, with a quantity of wood burning 
under his bed, the men having fired that as well as the bark 
of the roof. 

The rapid movements of the Blacks were extraordinary. 
Fifty miles a day must have been often traversed by them 


by Google 


in the height of the war. It was during that war that settlers 
noticed a marked decrease of children. This arose from the 
policy of the tribes, who, finding themselves hard-pressed 
by the company of the young in their marches, and who 
feared the betrayal of their haunts by the cry of a little 
one, had most relentlessly resolved upon the destruction 
of their families. Mothers even were known to murder their 
own babes, rather than have them fall into tie hands of 
their implacable enemies. 

Mrs. Meredith records two or three sad Tasmanian tales. 
In the year 1826, some parties in the Bush noticed a man stag- 
gering along with groping arms. As they neared the object, 
they were shocked to perceive the poor creature with battered 
head and speared body, and the sores swarming with mag- 
gots. One of his eyes was knocked out, and the other was 
totally blind from a blow. In a few words the unhappy 
man moaned forth his story. He had received a spear in 
his breast, while endeavouring to get away from a mob. 
This after some difficulty he extracted, and ran on again. 
Another pierced his back, and broke short off in the wound. 
Sickening with pain, his step faltered, and the savages 
reached him. Several spears were thrust into him, and 
waddies played heavily about his head. He was left for 
dead. Keviving, he made an effort to reach some settlement, 
and so fell in with the party. Upon further conversation, 
the rescuers were horrified at discovering that the attack had 
taken place three days before ; the time accounted for the 
dreadful condition of his wounds. He was conveyed to the 
hospital, but death soon released him from suffering. 

One Josiah Gough lived with his wife and two girls in a 
remote part of the interior. Becoming alarmed for the safety 
of his family, he went off to the town to procure assistance 
to remove them to a place of safety. While away, the 
Natives stole down the chimney into the hut, speared, and 
then brained, the poor woman, and cruelly waddied the 
children. Taking what they desired, the murderers with- 
drew. The father soon after arrived, and heard the sad 
tale from the dying lips of his surviving girl. We cannot 
be surprised at some fearful retaliation by the neighbours. 
In 1827, a farmhouse was attacked, under similar circum- 
stances, when the master bad gone for a military party. 


by Google 


The wife, daughter, two sot)8, a servant, and a traveller, 
were in the hut when the barbarians surrounded it with 
their mad cries for blood. The armed inmates defended 
themselves with much courage and coolness; the conduct 
of one of the boys was quite heroic. The contest continued 
for some time, when the enraged Blacks set fire to the thatch 
of the roof, to drive out the family, that they might be more 
readily and certainly destroyed. At this critical period, a 
dozen soldiers appeared through the forest, and soon put 
the tribe to flight. 

So rancorous was the hatred of the Natives against the 
Whites, that every expedient was adopted to carry out theit 
malevolent purpose, and torments were used with almost an 
Indian refinement of cruelty. In the early days, as the 
men, the servants especially, only wore a sort of moccasin 
of kangaroo skin, sharp stones and pointed burnt sticks were 
set up into paths known to be passed, so as to pierce the 
feet. The most abominable atrocities were perpetrated upon 
some victims' bodies. But this was adopted for the purpose 
of exhibiting their deadly animosity against the Europeans for 
their treatment of the native women, and was a terrible 
retaliation for similar cruelties practised upon the male 
Blacks. Some of our countrymen were emasculated, and 
the dying were often given up to the torturing hand of 
the gins, who, with sharp stones upon secret parts, added 
poignancy to the last agony. Several Bush hands have 
told me such stories, unlit for publication, but all evidencing 
the Blacks' deep-rooted spirit of revenge. 

The object of some of these outrages was clearly personal 
revenge. Thus, a leading settler of Swanport had his house 
beset by the wild East Mob. The party within were well 
armed, and maintained the siege with great spirit. One 
man managed to evade the observation of the leaguers, and 
set off at full speed to give the alarm at the nearest military 
post, Pittwater, fifty-four miles olF. He was in such a fright, 
that by the time he reached the town of Sorell his hair had 
turned completely grey. Assistance was rapidly forwarded, 
and the siege was raised, though murders in the neighbour- 
hood cx)ntinued for a long time after. Much discussion 
enjsued as to the reason of this attack by Natives with whom 
the settler had always been on the most friendly terms, and 


by Google 


for whom a number of them had often been employed. As 
usual, it was set down to the natural devihmnt of the 
Blacks, and no means were spared to extirpate them in that 
part. Some twenty years after this, my informant, who had 
been previously acquainted with the facts, stopped for the 
night at a roadside inn. Among the callers was one who, 
under the excitement of liquor, was detailing some portions 
of his early history, and especially his exploits with the 
Black Grows, as he called them. The gentleman took no 
particular interest in the narrative until he heard particulars 
of the outrage to which we have just alluded, and the ex- 
planation of what had at the time appeared to be so enig- 
matical as to the attack. According to the testimony of 
this story-teller, he had been out shooting with his father. 
Spying a black fellow behind a tree, the young fellow cried 
out to his father that he had got a capital mark for a shot. 
The settler reproved the wanton cruelty of his son, and told 
him to go home. The other resolved, however, not to be 
cheated out of his sport ; so, watching until his parent had 
retired, he took aim at the inoffensive native and dropped 
him dead at once. Of course, he never told at the house 
what he had done. It was only two or three days after that 
that the attack upon the premises took place, and thus the 
wicked conduct of the lad had nearly caused the destruction 
of all his family. 

Many narrow escapes are recorded. A stock-rider found . 
himself suddenly beset by a mob in the Abyssinian Marshes. 
Kising ^in his stirrups, and setting spurs to his horse, he 
charged in upon the masses with his formidable weapon, the 
stock-whip. Loud cries followed his rapidly administered 
strokes, and the field became his own. 

But occasionally they found even females too much for 
them. Between Lovely Banks and Spring Hill, some forty 
miles north of Hobart Town, a beautifuUy-wooded region, 
there dwelt in the olden times a worthy settler upon a 
moderate-sized farm. Taking advantage of his temporary 
absence fi-om home with his two men, the ever-watchful 
Natives descended from the Tiers. The mother was alone 
with her two children, a boy and a girl Being washing-day, 
a large pot or billy of water was suspended from the 
chimney-hook over the fire. Immediately upon the cry of 


by Google 


" the Blacks," they all rushed into the house, but not before 
the little boy received a severe wound in his leg. Nothing 
daunted, the family prepai'ed for resistance, knowing if they 
could hold out for an hour or two the father would return. 
The poor mother, then within three weeks of her confine- 
ment, seized a gun from over the mantelpiece, and fired at 
the assailants. Then, keeping watch at an opening in the 
wall, she waited until her suffering boy had charged the 
weapon, when she again sent its contents among the cowardly 
band. This was repeated time after time, the brave boy 
assiduously helping his noble mother, regardless of his own 

Thus unexpectedly repidsed, the enemy prepared another 
and more dreadful mode of attack. Fiery Wing-wavga, of 
lighted bark, were hurled against the bark roof of the hut, 
while, taking advantage of the withdrawal of attention of 
the inmates, they made a new rush to the door. But here 
commenced the heroism of the little girl, who, bidding her 
mother keep to her post, calmly and resolutely took her 
station by the fireplace, and with her pannikin at the billy 
steadily threw water upward upon the ignited bark. The 
mother, in the meanwhile, dealt another and another blow 
upon the savages. The contest had thus continued for hours 
when, to the great joy of the wearied and sufiering besieged, 
the report of guns outside reached their ears. The enemy 
disappeared, and the fainting wife was soon in the arms of 
her delivering partner. Governor Arthur was so pleased 
with the heroism of the woman, that he presented her with 
a grant of three hundred acres of land, and undertook to 
provide for the future of the brave boy and girl. 

A man who had before been brick-making for Mr Eobin- 
son, the Apostle of the Blacks, and 'Wfhom I found twenty- 
seven yeaKT ago still making bricks, though then by the 
Yarra-Yarra, gave me some incidents of his career in the 
island over the way. He spoke of a party out kangarooing 
who came upon a mob rather suddenly. A fine, tall, naked 
chieftain was shot, and the others fled shrieking over the 
Fourteen-Tree Plains. A boy and girl, dropped in the 
flight, were picked up by the pursuers, and afterwards found 
themselves at the Orphan School, New Town. 

An old carter once told me that he was assigned to a 


by Google 


person at Flat-top Tier, some twenty miles from Hobart Town. 
One morning the cook of the hut had gone down to the 
creek for water, to prepare the supper of the expected shep- 
herds, when the Natives came down from the Tier and 
speared him. The men returning homeward found their 
meal unprepared, and the hut vacant. When the body of 
the murdered man was discovered, they seized their guns and 
set ofE in pursuit of the tribe. After a long and vain chase 
they returned to their quarters, and, to their consternation, 
found the hut burnt to the ground.' 

An ex-bushranger gave me the intelligence that he had 
been once followed by the Blacks for two or three miles. 
When out of breath, he halted behind a tree, and presented 
his gun to keep the others in check. A party of the Ouse 
Mob burnt down the hut of a shepherd and murdered the 
owner. They were about to destroy his daughter, when the 
girl fell upon her knees, and in piteous accents sought their 
mercy. Their savage hearts were softened,' and the orphan 
was suffered to escape. Captain Gray, of Av oca, was often 
seen standing over his threshold with a loaded musket. Men 
regularly took out their guns with them when they went to 
plough, sticking the weapon against some stump in the field. 

In the primitive days it was the custom for the rations 
of flour to be kept in an uncovered cask in the hut. 
Eobberies would thus be effected. A shirted black fellow 
would approach, and smilingly enter upon a jabber with the 
inmate ; all the while seemingly just fingering the flour, while 
in reality he was quietly conveying it by a rapid and clever 
movement up his sleeve. The story is told of a certain 
chief who was rather remorselessly making free with the 
contents of a barrel, when he suddenly gave a yell, and with- 
drew his arm minus his hand. The shrewd farmer had 
planted a strong steel trap in the flour, which had thus 
seized upon the thief. Years after this man was one of 
those conveyed to Flinders' Island. He never liked an 
allusion to the playful accident of former years. He was 
described to me by a Government officer as always keeping 
the injured arm secreted under his blanket or rug, and as 
looking imcommonly sulky when asked why he did not eat 
with that other hand. 

Some incidents remind one strongly of the struggles of 


by Google 


the American colonists when they encountered the enmity 
of the Red Indian. Then the pine forest was cleared by 
the axe, with the gun slung over the shoulder. The Block- 
house was the village fort, to which in times of pressing 
emergency the inhabitants retreated from their malignant 
foe. Every river, hill, and township has its traditionary tale 
of horrors. For awhile, so imminent was the danger, that 
hope of permanent settlement of the country was well-nigh 
abandoned. There, too, as in Tasmania, the outrages of the 
Aborigines could be traced in most cases to the frauds and 
cruelties practised upon the tribes by unprincipled Whites. 
There, too, as in the southern isle, indiscriminate attack 
and slaughter followed the perpetration of crime by the 
individual. The civilized colonists acted upon the same 
principle, and dealt wide blows as a return for the faults of 
the few. The like practice existed among the rude and 
cannibal Fiji islanders. The secret crime of one man was 
revenged upon the whole tribe. It was so among the New 
Zealanders. The same law existed among the ancient 
Israelites, and the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people. 
Even now, in too many instances, is society called upon to 
suffer for the misdemeanour of the individual. 

While the woods echoed with discharges of musketry 
against the Natives, many a cry arose from terror-stricken 
hut-keepers. On the 13th of March, 1829, a Mr. Miller was 
returning to hisiiomestead on the east bank of the North Esk, 
when he saw Natives on the farm. He ran to his neighbours 
for help, and then beheld a scene of horror. One man lay 
dead twenty yards from the house, while another was found 
with dislocated neck and with eleven spears in his body. 
Fjitering his dwelling, with unspeakable anxiety, the farmer 
saw his wife a dreadful object upon the bed, her brains 
having been dashed out by a waddy blow. Sugar, flour, 
powder, and clothes had been taken away. 

Two prisoner stockmen were attacked by a largo mob on 
York Plains, on the northern side of the island. For five 
hours, by shots and a bold front, they kept the foes at bay. 
But when the long grass was fired by the miscreants, and the 
wind drove smoke and flame over them, the Bushmen ran 
for their lives, and did not obtain assistance till half an hoiir 
had passed. These, and other convict servants, felt it to be 


by Google 


a hard ease that they should be thus exposed to continual 
terror, while protecting the property of the masters to whom 
they were assigned as little better than slaves, and subject to 
be severely flogged for any supposed neglect of duty. As 
one very properly observed, that on being sentenced to trans- 
portation, it was not a part of the punishment that they were 
to be exposed to the chance of being speared by savages. 

Within six years, 121 outrages by the Blacks were recorded 
in Oatlands (central) district alone. Mr. Anstey, P.M. of 
Oatlands, held twenty-one inquests upon murdered persons 
between 1827 and 1830. I was informed that there were in 
the Public Office one thousand pages of MSS. upon these 
inquests and outrages. 

It is very grievous to hear of children: suflFering. In a 
valley among the tiers of the central interior, and not far 
from Jericho, lived a farmer named Hooper, with his wife 
and seven children. The Blacks, for reasons not explained, 
waited three days to catch the man away from his house 
without his gun. When helpless, he was surrounded, and 
killed. The others then proceeded to the log-hut, and de- 
stroyed all;its inmates. Another farmer, residing in one of 
the most secluded parts of the island, called " The Den," had 
gone into his fields to labour, leaving behind his wife who 
had recently been delivered of twins. Looking back, he 
fancied he saw the door of his place opened and shut too 
quickly. He feared the worst, and ran home. He arrived 
to find his beloved ones bathed in their blood, by the spear 
and waddy wounds they had received. 

A woman named Walloa, gin to a chief in the north-west, 
became a terrible foe to the Whites. She had been stolen by 
a sealer, and learned on the island in the Straits to use fire- 
arms. Ultimately she escaped, and returned to her tribe. 
Her nature was changed by her cruel bondage, and her spirit 
of contradiction and vehemence made such quarrels among 
her people, that they permitted another sealer to have her. 
Again escaping, she raised a band of discontented, or heroic 
spirits, and led them to every species of outrageous cruelty 
against the solitary dwellers of huts. She boasted of her 
bloody work among the ** Black Snakes," as she termed her 
European foes. 

A characteristic tale of the times had long ago been sent to 


by Google 


me by Dr. G. F. Story, of Swanport, an excellent member of 
the Society of Friends in Tasmania, whose friendship I formed 
forty years ago in Hobart Town. He had been giving me 
an account of some ancient wrongs of the settlers, and appended 
this narrative to his letter, obtaining his information from the 
daughter of the gentleman who suffered from marauding 

"Having seen to-day," he proceeds, **one of Thomas 
Buxton's daughters, she has given me a rather different 
account of the attack by the JN'atives at Mayfield. The 
Natives encamped in the morning on the other side of the 
river, and opposite to Thomas Buxton's hut, built of sods. 
Some of them came across to the hut and said that all the 
party were tame Blacks, not wild ones, meaning they were 
all peaceable. At this time the Natives had learnt to speak 
English, They asked the Buxtous to come over to their 
camp, and have * a yarn.' After dinner two of the daughters 
took the cows to a marsh a quarter of a mile distant, and 
from thence saw the Natives showing signs of warfare. 
Balawinna, the head of the tribe, a tall, strong man, nearly 
six feet high, was marked with the red ochre. They ran to 
tell their mother, who immediately called her husband and 
three other men, who had gone to cut some thatch for a stack 
of wheat they had just got together (a small, and their 
only stack, for they had been but a short time there). In 
the mean time the Natives had crawled up to the hut, 
and almost stripped it, taking also two guns, the only ones 
they possessed. The last Native was leaving the hut with a 
loaf of bread when Thomas Buxton entered, and caught him 
round the neck, and made him drop thp loaf. The other men 
were speared before they could get to the hut. The Natives 
having taken the plunder to their camp, and knowing there 
were no more guns, came up boldly again, and one of them 
was about lighting a stick at a fire that was outside the hut 
for cooking. But it happened that a pistol was put away by 
one of the daughters,- and this having been loaded T. B. fired 
at the Black who was going to the fire. Then the Natives 
took their wounded man away, and tried to throw firesticks 
at the thatch. But T. B., having cut port-holes in the hut, 
stationed the children and men at the holes to watch : and 
when any approached, the pistol was poked out at the hole. 


by Google 


When night' came the Blacks retired up the creek, and made 
a fire for the night. T. B. despatched a man to Waterloo 
Point for help, and George Meredith, jun., and some men 
came before morning. In the morning the Natives came 
again ; and one with a firestick fixed to his spear came to the 
hut, and threw it on the stack of wheat. When those in the 
hut saw what the Blacks had done, they rushed out with 
their guns. The Natives, seeing the men with guns, immedi- 
ately made off. The wheat was saved. At night the fire of 
the Natives was seen up the creek, and the party going to it, 
killed several of the Blacks, and recovered some of the plunder." 
Dr. Story's own experience is related thus : — ** We com- 
menced settling at Kelvedon in 1829 ; Francis Cotton, his 
family, and myself living at Waterloo Point, the military 
station, until a hut should be built and some land cleared. 
Three men were employed in clearing a piece of land for the 
garden and homestead, living in a hut on the creek side. 
Whilst at breakfast one morning they observed the bullocks 
come running to the hut, as if something had frightened 
them; but, not thinking of the Natives, took no fui'ther 
notice of it. [Domestic animals were terrified at the Blacks.] 
The men went as usual to their work, taking with them their 
guns, and placing them at the butt of a tree that had fallen, 
and commenced lopping off the branches to bum up the trunk. 
Whilst thus engaged, one of them [Jones] looked up, and to 
his dismay saw the Blacks approaching, and one even handling 
the guns. He called out to his companions, threw his axe at 
a Black that was approaching him, and fled. Now the piece 
of land they were working on was thick with trees. There 
was a lagoon betwixt it and the sea-beach, and a creek on 
either side. On the north side the men's hut stood. Jones, 
in running away, received some spears into his body, which 
he managed to extract, and crossed the lagoon ; as did also 
Rogers, who was also speared. The other man. Flack, jumped 
over the north creek, and escaped unhurt, though very much 
frightened. The Blacks, not liking to cross the lagoon, had 
to go round it. Jones got away from them by tins means, 
but Rogers was followed by one more persevering than the 
rest on to the sea-beach, Rogers keeping close to the surf, while 
the B!ack ran alongside, every now and then throwing his 
waddy at him. But Rogers, being a London lad, dexterously 

Digitized by VjOOQLC 


dodged his head, and the waddy went into the water. Thus 
they went on until, at the end of the beach, the Black became 
exhausted and gave up the pursuit. Jones by this time had 
got some distance on his road to Waterloo Point, when he 
met his master coming as usual to see after the workmen ; 
and addressed him with, ' Oh, Master ! make haste and get 
back ! The Blacks are after us. They have killed Rogers.' 
Francis Cotton immediately turned, and reported it to the 
Commandant, and the military and constables were sent to 
the spot. But although I was with the sergeant, the first to 
arrive, there was not a trace of them could be seen. They 
had stripped the hut of -everything, and taken away two 
kangaroo dogs. One of these dogs returned after two or three 
days, badly wounded with spears. The other we supposed 
they had kept, as he was of a milder disposition. However 
it may have been, we never saw him again. The two men 
were ill some time with their wounds. 

" The inhabitants were kept in constant alarm by the 
repeated attacks of the Blacks, which called forth the sym- 
pathies of the Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Arthur, yet no 
means could be devised to rid the country of such a fearful 
scourge. They had a great antipathy to the Redcoats ; and 
no soldier, when sent on escort, or other duty, was allowed to 
go alone, never less than two were sent together. For the 
protection of the inhabitants several stations were formed, 
where two or more soldiers were placed. A soldier at one of 
these stations, called Boomer Creek, was sitting amongst some 
yoxmg wattles, peeling the twigs for a bird cage, when the 
l^atives stole upon and beat him to death with their waddies. 
Two sawyers were at work at their pit near Maylield House, 
when the Blacks came upon them. They, however, escaped 
to the house ; but one was so terrified that he fell into a fever, 
and died. So great a terror did they strike into the Euro- 
peans, that, notwithstanding their physical superiority, they 
were unable, through fear, to defend themselves." 

One of the most charming retreats known to me in Tasmania 
is on the banks of the Clyde. Mr. Glover, the distinguished 
artist, has left us some sketches of this romantic part of the 
interior. Twelve years before iliy visit to the beautiful home 
of Mr. Sherwin, the Natives had attacked the homestead of 
that gentleman. The outbuildings, and even the house itselfi 

F 2 


by Google 


were fired by the tribe. While the farm-servants were busy 
in moving the flour from the burning store, the shrewd Blacks 
set fire to a neighbouring fence, by way of distracting the 
attention of the servants, and giving themselves easier access 
to the great object of attack, — the flour-bag. As usual, they 
did not remain to fight. They fired the premises, less as a 
measure of ofience, than as a means of securing plunder. This 
partially secured, the band hastily retreated to the forest, and 
the unhappy settler mourned the loss of his property. 

So bold an outrage excited the fears of the colonists, and 
increased that sense of insecurity which troubled every Bush 
household. The pen of the ready writer, the Governor, was 
instantly put in motion, and a formidable Order appeared 
in the Gazette, February 26th, 1830. After a detail of the 
circumstances on the Clyde, His Excellency assured his people 
that such outrages 

" Demand simultaneous and energetic proceeding on 'the 
part of the settlers, who, it is to be regretted, have hitherto 
been too indifferent to the adoption of those obvious measures 
of protection, which are more or less within the means of 
almost every individual." 

The murder of Captain Thomas and his overseer, Mr. 
Parker, excited much interest in 1831. Captain Thomas 
was agent for the Van Diemen's Land Company's Establish- 
ment, and was well known to the Port Sorell tribe of his 
neighbourhood. The bodies of both gentlemen were found 
about a fortnight after they had been speared to death. The 
jury, at the inquest, returned this verdict: **We find that 
Bartholomew Boyle, Thomas and James Parker have been 
treacherously murdered by the three Black Natives now in 
custody, aided and assisted by the residue of the tribe to 
which they belonged, known by the name of the Big River 
tribe, during the most friendly intercourse, whilst endeavour- 
ing to carry into effect the conciliatory measures recommended 
by the Government." The only evidence procured was that 
of a native woman, who professed to have been present at the 

One of the most stirring incidents in the history of the 
war is given in an official communication to the Colonial 
Secretary, dated August 25th, 1831, by Captain Moriarty, so 
well known and respected afterwards in the port of Hobart 


by Google 


Town. It narrates the circumstances attending an attack 
upon an isolated homestead, and exhibits the heroism of a 
half-caste, Dalrymple Briggs. She was so named from 
being born at Port Dabyraple, and was the first of her race 
on the northern side. She "had married a settler in the 
interior, and, in her contention with the Natives, forgot the 
blood of her own race, in her feelings as a wife and a mother. 
For six long hours did she sustain a siege, and nobly did she 
defend her position. It is customary for the historian to 
describe the strength of the beleagured place, when detailing 
a succession of assaults. Our heroine fought behind no 
granite wall, nor was she shielded by a bomb-proof roof. 
Her castle was a simple slab hut ; though the bark roof, 
fortunately for her, had been covered with a thick coating of 
mud and lime to keep out the weather. The story will be 
better told in the Captain's words : — 

" There was no person in the hut, when the Natives first 
appeared, but a woman named Dalrymple Briggs, with her 
two female children, who, hearing some little noise outside, 
sent the elder child to see what was the matter, and hearing 
her shriek went out with a musket. On reaching the door, 
she foimd the poor child had been speared. The spear 
entered close up in the inner part of the thigh, and had been 
driven so far through as to create a momentary difficulty in 
securing the child from its catching against either door-post. 
Having effected this object, she barricaded the doors and 
windows, and availed herself of every opportunity to fire at 
the assailants, but — as they kept very close either to the 
chimney, or the stumps around the hut, and she had nothing 
but duck shot — with little effect, though she imagines she 
hit one of them. Their plan was evidently to pull down the 
chimney, and thus effect an entrance ; but they were intimi- 
dated by her resolution. Finding this fail, they went off, 
and returned in about an hour. This interval had been 
employed by them in procuring materials and forming faggots, 
which, on their return, they kept lighting and throwing on 
the roof (to windward), with a view to bum her out. She, 
however, shook them off as fast as they threw them on, and 
maintained her position with admirable composure, till the 
return of Thomas Johnson, the stock-keeper, pointed out to 
them the necessity of a retreat.'' 


by Google 


So noble a defence called forth the wannest expressions of 
applause. The Governor was not the last to acknowledge 
her heroic conduct. 

There is a story told, in connection with the early American 
settlements, of a man whose house had been attacked by 
Indians during his absence, and who returned to find the 
ghastly remains of his wife and children amidst the smoulder- 
ing embers of his hut. It was said that the man there and 
then solemnly devoted the rest of his life to revenge. Alone, 
he followed the trail of the savages. In silence he pursued 
the murderers of his family. Feverish with excitement, 
worn by fatigue, ill through exposure, he still went on, year 
after year, dealing a sure but stealthy blow upon any of the 
copper coloured tribes. All attempts to divert his purpose 
were unavailing. He visited the settlements but to gain a 
fresh supply of ammunition. He said nothing of his exploits, 
though the Border rang with his deeds; and the Indians 
whispered low, as they spoke of the White-hairs sheltered by 
the Manitou from their scalping-knives. Something similar 
might be told of some in Van Diemen's Land, who had lost 
kindred by attack, and who, vowing vengeance against the 
whole race of I^atives, were unsatiated by slaughter, and 
unrelenting in revenge. 

It was lucky for one poor fellow that the Natives enjoy a 
sense of the ridiculous. A shepherd of Jerusalem — which 
lies in a carboniferous region, with the greenstone covering 
the coal, and not far from Jericho and the River Jordan — 
being oppressed with the indolence of his occupation, and 
the heat of the day, placed his gun against a tree and fell 
asleep. Some Blacks came softly round, took away the 
weapon, and, with a loud simultaneous shout, startled the 
Bushman from his dreams. He jumped up in a great fright, 
saw the Natives around, missed his gun, and stared in such 
indescribable confusion, that the risible faculties of the 
robbers were much excited ; and so, after a hearty laugh at 
their intended victim, they permitted him to leave in safety. 

In one of the most charming spots of Bagdad — the seat of 
an ancient overflow of basalt on the palaeozoic floor, and, 
therefore, a fertile district now — was a farm belonging to 
Mr. Espie. One day the tribe attacked the overseer, a man 
of energy and tact. Quickly closing the door, and shouting 


by Google 


loudly, he brought down one marauder with a shot. Then, 
through holes in the slab sides of the hut he continued to fire, 
calling out in simulated voices, as if several were with him, 
and more than once letting part of his body be seen with a 
changed coat or cap, to impress the enemy with a sense 
of his strength of support. The ruse succeeded, and the 
discomfited warriors departed. 

Old George, whom I saw at Casterton, on the picturesque 
banks of the Glenelg of Victoria, is my informant for a story. 
In 1821 the Blacks in his neighbourhood, beyond the Norfolk 
Plains of the expatriated Norfolk Islanders, were very quiet 
and harmless. But a new overseer arriving at the station, a 
pretty gin was demanded. The chief, her husband, expostu- 
lated with the Englishman, but was brutally knocked down 
with the butt-end of a musket, and the tribe were forcibly 
driven off. " From that time," said George, " they became 
regular tigers, and speared right and left." 

Plunder was the primary object of attack. But many a 
hut was stripped by convict servants and others, and the 
offence charged upon the Aborigines. Mr. John Batman 
relates several instances of unfounded accusations. A letter 
from Ben Lomond, also, says : — " The report in the Colonial 
Times respecting the Natives plundering Mr. Bostock's 
shepherd is entirely false; and I am sorry to say similar 
falsehoods are daily spread, which oftentimes leads the parties 
astray who are in pursuit of the Blacks. Not a Black has 
been seen in these parts for two months past." 

An old settler of the interior once told me that he had 
been confined to his bed with a splinter in his foot. Hearing 
Natives coo-ey, he sent a lad to reconnoitre, with injunctions 
to return, and not to call out. The lad was terrified, and 
hid himself. Johnstone got up, and looked out upon the 
advancing party. Forgetting his lameness, he rushed out 
and ran four miles off to Salt Pan Plains to where a shepherd 
kept a iiock. The splinter came up through his foot with 
the violence of his running, but without his consciousness. 
Another informed me that he escaped through wearing an 
old bhirt. His hut had been fired, and, as he tried to escape, 
he was seized by his shirt sleeve. The piece gave away, and 
he managed to get clear off. 

A fine hill rises suddenly from the plain at the junction of 


by Google 


the Blackman and Macquarie rivers, and goes by the name of 
Don's Battery. A nlan, called Don, being chased by some 
Natives, reached this rampart, and from its top defended 
himself for hours with such courage and success, that the 
wearied attacking mob left him the victor. 

The most remarkable circumstance connected with the 
Black War is this, that though the native women had been 
so cruelly treated by the Whites, the male Aborigines, though 
ready to inflict death by the spear, singularly enough ab- 
stained from outrages upon the persons of our females. A 
good authority has distinctly stated, " In all the incursions 
made by the Blacks into the settlements, it has n^ver been 
known that a single white tooman has been violated by any of 
them" The only approach to this crime has been made by 
the half-civilized !N"atives, who invariably became the greatest 
rulfians in the war. It would seem that not until they 
became acquainted with the usages of Christians in warfare, 
could they be guilty of the atrocities that have stained the 
arms of Europe even in Christian lands themselves. The 
horrors of the Peninsular War and Thirty Years' War were 
heightened by this dreadful addition to the sufferings of 

Spear-wounds, inflicted by a sharpened point of wood, 
were far from being so severe as others, and in most cases, 
when not mortal, rapidly healed. The stick could be often 
withdrawn without the fatal consequences of the removal of 
the javelin from the breast of Epaminondas. Marvellous 
stories are given of the recovery of men left for dead, when 
transfixed by several spears. 

Near the banks of the classic Isis, and within view of the 
snow-clad Ben Lomond, stood Ellen thorpe Hall, the Ladies' 
Boarding School of the period, and conducted by Mr. ^nd 
Mrs. G. C. Clark. Being situated in a lonely place, about 
half-way from Hobart Town to Launceston, some alarm was 
experienced by parents at a distance, lest their daughters 
should be forcibly carried off by the Bush warriors. As a 
means of protection, a military station was formed in its 
neighbourhood, so that Venus could be shielded by Mars. 
Erom Mr. Clark I learned some tales of the past. 

When I stood at the head of the Jordan, near Jericho, 
which was then particularly infested with thieves, — for a 


by Google 


probation party of several hundreds then occupied a position 
in that bleak retreat, — I heard a series of bloody tales from 
Mr. Salmon of that district. It was there, near Lemon's 
Lagoon, so called from a celebrated Bushranger, that Mrs. 
Gough, her child, and Ann Geary were killed. The Quoin 
and the lofty Table Mountain there were favourite haunts 
of the Natives, from which they made their descents upon 
stray colonists. A poor Jew lad had been betrayed into some 
liaison with a gin there, and was subsequently killed by the 
men. When his corpse was recovered, it was found horribly 
mutilated by the jealous people of the tribe; a portion of 
the body being found thrust into the mouth of the corpse. 

It was at no great distance off that Mr. A. Jones became 
the subject of an attack, which is thus described by himself 
at the inquest before Mr. Anstey, P.M. of Oatlands : — 

" In November, 1826, I was attacked by a numerous tribe 
of Aborigines at my residence at Pleasant Place, in the parish 
of Kutland, in the county of Monmouth. On Thursday 
evening I left my wife and family at home, proceeding my- 
self in search of some sheep, and returned about ten o'clock 
of the forenoon. I had scarcely entered my dwelling when 
my little boy came in crying that the Blacks were about ; I 
seized my musket and went out, and saw two. I pursued 
them ; when I got half-way to the tier, I saw about twenty 
Natives in ambush amongst some wattle trees. My wife was 
at the time standing at my door, with a loaded pistol in her 
hand, and called to me to come down, which I did. The 
Natives followed, swearing at me in good English. They 
now extended themselves, and as the trees were at that time 
standing close to the house, they singly skulked behind them. 
I was on the alert, for I observed one man on one side, and 
another one on the other side, with lighted bark in their 
hands ; the women and children were up in the tier. I was 
much perplexed, for I was obliged constantly to run forwards 
and backwards. The centre of them worked down when 
they saw an opportunity. 

" It had been a high flood the day before, and the water 
had scarcely left the marshes, so we were hemmed in on all 
sides, the river behind and the Blacks before us. Mrs. Jones 
had several times prevented the men from coming to the 
house by presenting her pistol at them, which so exasperated 


by Google 


them that he who was taller than the rest, and seemed to be 
their chief, exclaimed in a great passion, in English, * As for 
you, ma-am — as for you, ma-am, I will put you in the river, 
ma-am ; * and then he cut a number of capers. We had then 
with us a courageous and faithful little girl, who proposed 
to go upon a scrubby hill, about a mile distant, to tell the 
sawyers who were at work there the dangers to which we 
were exposed ; but we could not allow it, fearing she would 
be speared ; it appeared afterwards that she had crawled along 
the fences, and succeeded in getting up to the sawyers. 
Guessing that she had proceeded thither, in about half-an- 
hour after we coo-eed, and were speedily answered by the . 
men. The native women on the tier gave out a signal, and 
the Blacks all fled. We pursued them, and I got very close 
to one, when he stooped under the boughs of a fallen tree, 
and I could see no more of him. We came up to a spot 
where we found a fire, with some kangaroo half roasted. We 
then observed the Blacks ascending the second tier, and we 
quitted further pursuit, as it would not have been safe to 
leave the house and family unprotected. This engagement 
with the Natives lasted about four hours." 

It must, however, be borne in mind, that a Guerilla war- 
fare, which was dignified in Spain against the French, heroic 
against the Persians in Greece, and patriotic in the Tyrolese 
against Napoleon, was regarded in Van Diemen's Land as 
the blind fury of a nest of savages. Not so thought an old 
convict servant-man of mine, who, speaking of the bold deeds 
of the Ouse, or Big River tribe, said, '*They fought well. I 
admire their pluck. They knew they were the weaker, but 
they felt they were the injured, and they sought revenge 
against many odds. They were brave fellows. I'd have 
done the same." One tribe, that was once known to possess 
three hundred fighting men, was reduced in ten years to 

A Dutch historian of New Amsterdam, afterwards the 
New York of the United States, explains a colonial native 
difficulty : — " In 1642, some Dutch traders, having sagaciously 
contrived to get an Indian drunk, robbed him of his valuable 
dress of beaver skins. In vengeance for this injury, the 
warriors killed two white men." A barbarous war was the 
result. But some hundreds fled to a tribe near the settle- 


by Google 


ment of New Amsterdam. The governor, Kieft, would not 
rest. " A band of soldiers and colonists was despatched on 
the horrid errand : the unsuspecting savages were surprised 
in their sleep, and more than one hundred of them were 
massacred in cold blood. The Indians living on the Hudson 
rose to revenge this cruel treachery, and were joined by the 
tribes of Long Island. A confederacy of eleven clans, num- 
bering more than fifteen hundred warriors, was formed, and 
a furious war blazed wherever a Dutch settlement was to be 

A little substitution of names would make this the record 
of the " Black War" of Van Diemen's Land. 

The year 1831 presented appalling scenes before the 
colonists. Outrages were still in the ascendant. The exas- 
perated Aborigines saw no hope before them, and seemed 
resolved to die as warriors that, in defending their land, were 
resolved to do the enemy as much mischief as possible. They 
seemed ubiquitous, from the rapidity of their march. The 
sky was illumiuated by fires in various quarters. Spears 
were thrown here and there with such terrible energy, as 
apparently to multiply the forces of the Natives, and keep 
the country settlers in constant and harassing watchfulness. 
About one hundred and fifty men alone were sufficient to 
excite such alarm in the breasts of the members of a flourishing 
British colony. 

The time of terror was well described to me by a colonist, 
who bore a trying part in the events of that period : — ** Thus 
they continued menacing the settlers," wrote he, " and mur- 
dering those that were found alone and unprotected ; so that 
it Was unsafe for a person to travel alone and without a gun, 
and the mind had to be made up beforehand as to which was 
the nearest house to run to, in case he was beset by the 
Blacks. He must not fire his gun, but keep them at bay by 
pointing it at them, for they had learnt that what they 
thought would go * Pop, pop, pop,' would only pop once ; 
and this being over, they would rush upon the unfortunate, 
and soon despatch him with their spears and waddies." 

Mosquito, the desperate leader in many an outrage by the 
Aborigines, appears so prominently in the Black War, as to 
demand a particular notice. 

He was not a Tasmanian, but a New Hollander, or 


by Google 


Australian native. Although endowed with superior physical 
powers, as well as a vigorous intellect and indomitable will, 
he was indebted to his acquirements in civilization for his 
extra ability in working mischief. Belonging to the Broken 
Bay tribe, located to the north of Sydney, he soon associated 
with a low class of convict population in his neighbourhood, 
and became an English scholar in our national vices of drinking 
and swearing, as well as in the employment of our tongue. 

The crime that brought him under the penal care of 
Government, was one with which he was associated with 
another wretched man, known by the settlers as Bulldog, 
These two Australian Blacks waylaid a woman, ill-used, and 
then murdered her. To gratify their horrible propensities, 
they ripped open the body for the destruction of the child. 
Strange to say, for want of some European evidence, the 
authorities simply sent them to the penal settlement of 
Norfolk Island. After the death of his bulldog accomplice, 
Mosquito was forwarded to the convict island of Van Diemen*s 
Land in 1813. 

There he was, according to the mode of the day, assigned 
as servant to Mr. Kimberley of Antill Ponds. It was not 
far from that, place that I heard some account of the man. 
For some years he conducted himself tolerably well, or so 
carefully guarded his acts as to keep out of the hands of the 
constable. An old man, named Elliot, who came to the 
colony in 1815, told me that he knew Mosquito when at 
service with Mr. Lord, and that he there contracted an 
improper connection with Black Hannah, but whom he 
subsequently murdered in a fit of passion. 

Mr. Melville mentions that he was employed to track 
bushrangers. For such a task he was peculiarly suited. Of 
a very tall, slim figure, of a wiry, active frame, with remark- 
able acuteness of sense, even for a native, and animated by a 
profound love of excitement and mischief, he made an admir- 
able blood-hound. Distinguished success attended his track- 
ing. But, as the constables with whom he was associated 
were men of the prisoner class, some of them ex-Bushrangers, 
and all with a powerful sympathy for the unfortunate robber, 
excepting in cases where his capture would bring dollars to 
their pockets, the zeal of Mosquito soon excited their ill-will, 
and plots were laid to get him into trouble. 


by Google 

mosquito's black mob. 77 

Being sent down to Hobart Town in 1818, he formally 
connected himself with some half-civilized, alias drunken, 
Aborigines, who hung about the town, over whom, by his 
superior intellectual energy, he established his authority. 
The Rev. Mr. Horton, on his visit to the colony, fell in with 
this so-called Tame Mob, and wrote the following account for 
a London magazine of 1822 : — 

" It consisted of persons (twenty or thirty of both sexes) 
who had absconded from their proper"; tribes in the interior, 
and is governed by a native of Port Jackson, named Muskitoo. 
This man was transported from Sydney to Van Diemen's 
Land, some years ago, for the murder of a woman, and was 
for some time after his arrival employed as a stock-keeper. 
How he was raised to this present station, as a leader of this 
tribe, I know not, unless it was in consideration of his 
superior skill and muscular strength. This party, like the 
rest of their race, never work, nor have any settled place of 
abode, but wander about from one part to another, subsisting 
on what is given them by the benevolent, and on kangaroos, 
opossums, oysters, &c. which they procure for themselves." 

This man had drawn them around him as their acknow- 
ledged chief, in a sense superior to any known among the 
equality-loving Tasmanians, and governed them after the 
approved European model. Many of them had transgressed 
tribal laws in their own districts, and were obliged to live 
abroad for a season. The superior attractions of town life 
may have seduced some from the forests. Others came from 
a distance to place themselves under the command of the wily 
New Hollander. It was easy for him to play the part of a 
ruler, in gathering the choicest women for his wives. It was 
his conduct to these that illustrated the cruelty of his natural 
disposition. He had several whom he used for private pur- 
poses of aggrandizement with the tribe, or for the procuring 
of extra luxuries from the Europeans. But one wife, the 
really fine-looking ^' Gooseberry," from the Oyster Bay tribe, 
was reserved for his exclusive service. This woman eventually 
excited the jealous anger of her savage lord, who murdered 
her in the Government Domain, outside of Hobart Town. 

An ex-Bushranger is my authority for some stories about 
the man. He was well known, as a fellow-forester, to this 
dreaded chief at the period when they in common, though 


by Google 


on separate commissions, preyed upon the country settlers. 
Coming once upon his track at an inconvenient time, when 
he was wanted by the Governor, the familiar Bushranger was 
ordered off, as Mosquito was impressed with the notion that 
he might seek his own pardon by the betrayal of his black 
acquaintance. He cried out to him, " What do you do here % 
Go away." The hint was sufficient, and he hastened off. 
But he said that he knew for a fact that once the terrible 
monster cut off the breast of one of his gins, because she 
would persist, against his orders, in suckling her child. 

He hung about the neighbourhood of Hobart Town for 
some time, soliciting bread for his people. That food he 
would exchange for tobacco and rum, to gratify his own 
civilized tastes. Receivers and exchangers were readily found 
at the huts of the convict servants. His manner of life is 
spoken of by a witness, one Thomas M'Minn, in some evidence 
on a murder case, given before Mr. Anstey, Police Magistrate 
at Oatlands. 

"I arrived in the colony," said he, "in 1820, and was 
placed in the service of Captain Blythe, near Oatlands, with 
whom I remained until his death in 1823. The Blacks were 
very quiet when I arrived here. Mosquito and his Mob came 
to Mr. Blythe's hut very often. Mosquito had three wives 
or gins. He would not allow any ijian to have intercourse 
with them. The other gins were allowed to prostitute them- 
selves to white men for bread and other things. Mosquito 
ordered a gin to retire with a white man, and she obeyed his 
orders. This happened, as I am told, very often." 

According to the account told me by old Ward, Mosquito 
" kept the tethers," and sent the Blacks to rob and slaughter. 
He would lurk about, gain information, lay his plans in a 
skilful manner, and then, from his retreat, despatch his band 
to carry on the warfare. It was among the Oyster Bay 
Mob, of the east coast, that this worthy practised his de- 
moniacal arts, and that, for a long period, with singular 
address and success. His people kept the land in a state 
of terror. Old Talbot gave me particulars of the horrible 
death of a woman and her daughter, at the Ouse River, and 
declared that the "Darkies were as quiet as dogs before 
Mosquito came." In the language of Mi, Meredith, a settler 
of that district : — " They spared neither age nor sex ; the 


by Google 


aged woman and the helpless child alike fell victims to their 
ferocity." He adds, also : — " Owing to their extreme cunning, 
activity, and cat-like nature, retaliation was all but impos- 
sible." It does not appear, however, that Mosquito was a 
favourite with all the tribe; for we read of a number of 
them setting on him one day, and beating him nearly to 
death with their waddies. Doubtless, this arose from a little 
political feeling, some of the old chiefs not approving of the 
assumption of the premiership by a stranger, though a good 
White-hater. It may have been some Brutus and Cassius 
conspirators, loving their Caesar much, but their freedom 
more, who thought to get rid of their self -constituted 

Tom Birch joined Mosquito in 1822. This young Tas- 
manian Native had been brought up by Mr. Birch of Hobart 
Town from boyhood. From his aged and very estimable 
mistress, I gathered information about him. She repeatedly 
spoke to me of **Poor Tom," expressing a deep interest in 
him. He was so good and useful a lad, so obliging and 
gentle, so honest and careful, and so thoroughly devoted to 
his master. He spoke English correctly, and could read and 
write. In his attendance at church, and general deportment, 
he gave promise of true civilization. But in an evil hour 
Mosquito made his acquaintance He poisoned his mind 
against Europeans, representing them as the enemies of his 
race. He pictured the hopelessness and aimlessness of his 
future. What could he ever be but the slave of the Whites 1 
Could he get a wife among them 1 Would they admit him 
on an equality with themselves ? Did they not look upon 
him as a black dogi and would they not treat him very 
soon accordingly? Then temptations were placed before 
him. He was incited to drink. He was admitted into the 
licentious orgies of the roaming tribe. The master and 
mistress saw the change coming over him, and strove to 
counteract the evil, but in vain. His regard for them was 
too strong and real to permit him to wrong them, or suffer 
their property to be injured by his vicious friends. But he 
could not stay in town. He bolted to the Bush, and was 
then recognized as a bold robber of the forest, and an active 
accomplice of Mosquito's. 

Although the rascally chief long kept his own neck out 


by Google 


of the halter by his duplicity and unscrupulous sacrifice of 
his confederates, poor Tom Birch was soon captured. His 
old employer was able to preserve his life from the law's 
demands, but he was sentenced to the dreadful convict settle- 
ment at Macquarie Harbour. He escaped thence through 
his fertility of expedients, and associated himself with the 
Abyssinian Mob, beyond the Ouse river, then engaged in the 
Black War. It was while Tom was out the second time, 
that he was connected with several robberies and murders 
near the Shannon. 

His Hobart Town friends heard of his whereabouts, and 
determined, if possible, to save him. They represented to 
the Governor the desirability of obtaining the help of so 
intelligent a Native in his plan of Conciliation, and over- 
tures were made to the outlaw. He accepted the proposed 
terms, and was attached to one or other of the roving 
parties, proving himself a valuable friend to both contending 
races. A life of Bush exposure proved fatal to him at last, 
and he died at Emu Bay, in 1832, from dysentery. 

Black Jack, Mosquito's other prominent mate, and who 

subsequently came to trial with him, was very different to 

. Tom. Able to read and write, this civilized Aborigine was 

a fit companion for Mosquito. When taking to the Bush, 

he exclaimed, '' I'll kill all the White ." He has been 

heard to say, when torturing some unhappy creature, ** Jack . 
will touch him there again, he don't like it." Old Talbot 
gave him a very bad character, pronouncing him as cruel 
as the leader of the Mob. On one occasion the whole 
gang might have been captured, but from the impulsive 
conduct of the constables, who had primed themselves too 
much with grog, and, in their Dutch courage, made so much 
noise in their charge, as to give their dark foes sufficient 
warning to escape to the scrub. 

The course of this hero of blood was stayed in consequence 
of a murder committed near the east coast. Mr. Meredith, 
who was living near the scene of the conflict at the time, is 
our historian of the event. It appears that Mosquito came 
with some of the Oyster Bay tribe to Grindstone Bay, upon 
a run belonging to Mr. Silas Gatehouse, on pretence of 
hunting. Radford, a stock-keeper, held a sjrt of parley 
with the ruffian, and, as he saw him seizing some fine 


by Google 


kangaroo dogs, called out, "Don't take our dogs away." 
The reply to this was a spear wound in his side from Black 
Jack. A rush to the hut took place. Kadford ran wounded, 
with naked feet, for three miles, chased by the Blacks, but 
he escaped. Two men in the hut were speared to death, 
Mormer or Mammoa, a Tahitian native, and one William 
Holyoake. This took place on November 15th, 1823. 

Falling in with an " Old Hand " at Warrnambool, nearly 
thirty years ago, I got another version of the story from one 
who claimed to have been with Radford on that eventful 
occasion. The old man was one of the notables of Port 
Phillip history, being one of Mr. John Batman's men on 
his first visit to that colony in 1835. For several years 
before, he had lived with the Batman family in Tasmania, 
at their Ben Lomond Home, and had accompanied John 
Batman in his chase of Bushrangers and Black fellows. 
"When I knew him he was seventy years old. Of middle 
height, but of massive proportions, he would have been more 
than a match for many a younger man in a close conflict. 
His chest and neck betokened great physical strength. His 
white locks curled briskly from under his broad-brimmed 
hat, and his hair hung down in a handsome and magnificent 
beard, to be envied by a Pasha. His mien was bold and 
cheerful. His eye was quick and ingenuous. His ruddy 
cheeks stood out with good humour and the most robust 
health. Old Daddy, as he was called, bore a good name ; 
and, making every allowance for improvements upon a tale 
so often told, and referring to a date so many years before, I 
had reason to believe that his yarn contained more than the 
elements of truth, and that it was not a mere story founded 
upon facts. There may have been reasons why some things 
he spoke about were not told before. 

Substantially, his story is the same as that of others about 
Radford, Holyoake, &c. Radford and he happened to leave 
the hut one morning without their guns, contrary to their 
custom, as the weather was wet. When fleeing from the 
Blacks, he received two spear wounds, one in his thigh. 
Informing his master of the outrage, that gentleman is said 
to have sworn not to rest two nights in his bed until he had 
taken a bloody revenge. Collecting a party of thirty — 
constables, soldiers, and neighbours — ^he set o& to execute 



by Google 


his threat. One Douglas Evans, a Sydney Native, was met 
upon the road, and from him information was r.^ceived that a 
large body of the Aborigines had camped for the night in a 
gully by Sally Peak, six miles from Bushy Plains, on the 
border of Prosser's Plains. 

They proceeded stealthily as they neared the spot ; and, 
agreeing upon a signal, moved quietly in couples, until they 
had surrounded the sleepers. The whistle of the leader was 
sounded, and volley after volley of ball cartridge was poured 
in upon the dark groups around the little camp-fires. The 
number slain was considerable. Few passed the fatal line. 
Many children were among the wounded ones. A sergeant 
seized hold of a little boy, who attempted to rush by him in 

the darkness ; and exclaiming, " You , if you ain't 

mischievous now, you will be," swung him round by his feet 
against a tree, and dashed his brains out. Women were 
lying about still gn^ping their children amidst their dying 
torments. Such was the story given me by the old man. 

The extraordinary sagacity of Mosquito enabled him to 
elude several snares for his capture; but he was at length 
secured through the courage of a half-civilized Native, named 

This young lad, though brought up with Europeans, was 
known to have communications with the murderer. .Appli- 
cations were made to enlist his help, in securing the arch 
chieftain. He agreed to attempt the capture if provided 
with the company of constables at hand, and was promised 
a boat should he succeed. His ambition had been to possess 
a boat of his own, and trade between Bruni Island and 
Hobart Town. Day by day he sought the retreat of Mos- 
quito, who had now separated from his gang, because of the 
hot pursuit, and was concealed with two of his gins near 
Oyster Bay. Godfrey and Marshall, two constables, were 
with Tegg when the human tiger's lair was discovered. 
Sending the Europeans to secure the women, this lad of 
seventeen ran toward Mosquito, and shot him in the thigh. 
Singularly enough, the wretched man had no spears near 
him at the time, and had to run for his life, pursued by the 
Black, who fired another barrel at him. Brought to bay by 
loss of blood, he leaned against a tree, and in impotent rage 
threw sticks at the advancing youth. He was brought down 


by Google 


to Hobart Town, and for a while his life was in jeopardy 
from his wounds. 

Mosquito and Black Jack, in December 1824, were tried 
for the murder of William Holyoake, at Grindstone Bay, 
committed on the 15th of November, 1823. Mosquito was 
found guilty on this charge, but Black Jack not guilty. 

Although Black Jack escaped on that occasion, he was 
' subsequently convicted of the murder of Patrick Macarthy, 
hut-keeper, Sorell Plains. He and his chief. Mosquito, were 
to die together. He implored the judge to send him to the 
penal hell of Macquarie Harbour, instead of hanging him ; 
discreetly saying to a friend, " Then I'll soon run away." 
His Honour seemed to take that view of the question, and 
declined to grant the favour. One of my tell-tale acquaint- 
ances remarked, "I had the pleasure of seeing them both 
tucked up comfortably." They were in other company, for 
five Bushrangers were to be suspended with them. The 
scene of their execution was at what was called Mr. Muster- 
Master Mason's place. This was at the " Cascades," the site 
afterwards of the Female Factory, at the farther end of 
Macquarie Street, Hobart Town, where the basaltic columns 
of Mount Wellington appear to overhang the spectator. It 
was on the 25th of February, 1825. The Chaplain, the Kev. 
W. Bedford, made a forcible address to the multitude of 
curious spectators there. He thus appealed to them : — 
" These poor unhappy fellow-worms, whose lives have become 
forfeited to the laws of violated justice and humanity, implore 
you to shun the path that leads to death." All the officers 
in attendance upon the solemn occasion were attired in 
deep mourning. Several 'of the condemned men joined in 
singing a funeral hymn. To all the clergyman's exhortations, 
Mosquito preserved a sullen silence, but Black Jack was much 
alarmed. The " Old Hands " are fond of telling the story that, 
upon the clergyman exhorting Jack to pray, he exclaimed, 
" You pray yourself ; I too frightened to pray." Upon this, 
to use the language of the newspaper of the day, " the hapless 
offenders, after a short interval, were launched into eternity." 

But, without doubt, the exiecution of Mosquito, who 
exerted so fascinating an influence upon the simple tribes, 
was attended with important results. Many !N'atives came 
into town to implore the pardon of the man ; and, upon the 


Digitized by VjOOQLC 


failure of their efforts, returned to the Bush with bitterer 
feelings against the dominant race. As Mr. Gilbert Eobert- 
son wrote in 1831 : — " Although Mosquito has been removed, 
yet the lessons he afforded the Aborigines of this island 
have not been forgotten ; experience has taught them craft, 
cunning, activity, and watchfulness, and at this moment they 
have found means to spread terror amongst the Coloniste 
residing in the interior." The " Black War " is, indeed, * 
dated by some persons from the death of Mosquito. 

The captor, Tegg, or Teague, as it has been written, did not 
get the price of blood; and he therefore, in sullen anger, 
betook himself to the Bush, saying, " They promised me a 
boat, but they no give it ; me go with Wild Mob, and kill 
all white men come near me." Many murders were attri- 
buted to him. He was concerned in the murder of two 
stockmen belonging to Messrs. Cox and Barclay. It is also 
recorded, that a native woman, brought up from infancy by 
the Whites, was, when far advanced in pregnancy, speared 
to death by this revengeful fellow. Strange to say, he sub- 
sequently returned to Hobart Town, and received his boat, 
which was, said the newspaper, "to concilate the youth's 
unfortunately aggravated feelings." (!) 


The Line^ the most formidable part of the Black War, was 
formed towards the close of 1830. It was not like the cele- 
brated Thin Red Line of the Crimea, seen and seeing all the 
way, but a cordon of more unequal character, to drive the 
Aborigines into a corner of Tasmania. 

History is not without parallels of a Line operation. A 
levy en masse for a similar purpose took place in Governor 
Macquarie's time. The Natives of New South Wales had 
been very troublesome; and, in 1816, General Macquarie 
summoned the colonists, with all available military and 
constabulary, and drove the Blacks before him beyond the 
Blue Mountains, with great slaughter. This may have sug- 
gested to the authorities of Van Diemen's Land the scheme 
eventually adopted there. 
. A remarkably hopeful Government paper had appeared in 


by Google 


August 1830, which urged the colonists not to hurt the weU- 
disposed Natives, but rather give them a dinner, with smiles, 
and let them depart, with a blessing. A reconsideration of 
the subject, after loud complaints of his people, induced 
Colonel Arthur to qualify his statement, and quiet the surges 
of public opinion. This produced Government Order 166, 
Aug. 27th, 1830. In that it was said, that while no measure 
of conciliation was to be spared, it was not intended that the 
people should " relax the most strenuous exertions to repel and 
to drive from the settled country those Natives who seize 
every occasion to perpetrate murders, and to plunder and 
destroy the property of the inhabitants." 

But the trumpet-tongued appeals of the colony called for 
more decided action, and Colonel Arthur came forth to do all 
that a Governor could do for the relief of his subjects. 

After much discussion, it was determined to depend no 
longer upon the feeble operations of the Koving Parties, — the 
Five Pounds' Catchers, as they were called, — but to make a 
more decided impression upon the enemy in extensive and 
simultaneous action, by which they might achieve wholesale 
captures ; for, of course, no allusion could be made to the 
possible destruction of many. The plan proposed was, to 
station the military in certain centres of the settled districts, 
and to call upon the people to volunteer their help in con- 
necting themselves with any commander of these military 
parties they preferred. A charge was to be simultaneously 
made from these various foci of strength on the 7th of 
October, "one great and engrossing pursuit" No special 
rewards were offered, but sufficient inducements were hinted 
at by a Government known to possess the means of bestow- 
ing prizes. Though not intended as a Line proceeding, this 
act was the forerunner of that military movement. 

The Government Order calling for volunteers was issued 
from the Colonial Secretary's Office, September 9th, 1830. 
This, like other orders of the period, may be read in the 
author's * Last of the Tasmanians.' The several stations to 
be occupied by the volunteers are there given. 

The Colonists were pleased with the decision of the 
Government. The Hohart Tovm Courier, of September 11, 
already saw, "by anticipation, crowds of these poor, be- 
nighted creatures marched into town." The editor sagely 


by Google 


recommends the volunteers and military to seize upon the 
women and children, and then the men would surrender 
themselves. Perhaps he lialf fancied that the native males 
would place the tender ones in front, as the Persians did with 
the cats against the Egyptians. It was, however, admitted 
that at least thirty, that had been previously caught and well 
initiated in our English customs, were then with their Bush 
countrymen, and taking the lead by reason of their superior 

Before the invitations of Colonel Arthur could be issued, 
however, a change in the arrangements occurred. It was 
contended that it would be comparatively useless to have the 
war jnade at so many points, affording opportunities for the 
Natives, by their superior Bush craft, to pass between the 
forces hither and thither, and so keep the colony in constant 
terror. Still, the inhabitants were anxious to co-operate with 
their rulers in any project offering relief. 

A public meeting took place on September 22nd, in the 
Court of Bequests' Boom, ostensibly to make arrangements 
for the formation of a town-guard. The chairman of that 
court, Jos. Hone, Esq., brother of the celebrated English 
writer of that name, was requested to preside. The old 
gentleman has more than once told me, at his Hobart Town 
home, his tale of the past. Anthony Fenn Kemp, Esq., one 
of the earliest officers in the colony, gave the audience Bome 
particulars of the first attack, at Bisdon, in 1804. Mr. 
Gellibrand, attorney, admonished the colonists not to shoot 
any Aborigines when they should be flying before them. Mr. 
Hackett doubted the ability of the dark race to know the 
wishes of Government, as not five white persons could speak 
their language. 

The first resolution passed declared it the duty of every 
man cheerfully to contribute to the common cause every 
assistance in his power. The second suggested the means ; 
that of personal service in the field, or performing the duties 
of the military during the absence of the latter from town. 
The third pledged the meeting to five weeks' service in the 
capital, dated from the 2nd of October. The fourth urged 
the propriety of the inhabitants'/selecting their own particular 
scene of duty, and the election of their officers. The last 
resolution was concerning the nomination of fifteen persons 


by Google 


to fonn a committee, six of whom were to wait upon the 
Governor. Two dozen gentlemen, however, volunteered to 
take the hattery guard, if independent of this general 

There was not unanimity of opinion. Mr. Gregson, a 
barrister of no mean talent and oratorical power, had been 
opposed to Government on political grounds, and took legal 
exception to their mode of procedure, contending that such a 
warlike demonstration was uncalled for, and that the Natives, 
as real masters of the soil, ought not to be forced from the 
territory bequeathed to them by their fathers, and now 
usurped by the British crown. He would not, therefore, go 
himself, nor would he permit one of his servants " to follow 
to the field some warlike Lord." His opponents professed 
to be surprised that a gentleman owning such dignified, 
moral, and correct sentiments, should continue to hold a fine 
estate, as he did, upon a title granted by public robbers 
of a nation, and urged him to leave a land desecrated by 
such violation of the rights of man and the honour of 

The Governor felt himself strengthened by the moral sup- 
port of his subjects, and modified and expanded his original 
views. Instead of a number of separate and unsupported, 
though simultaneous, operations over the whole of the settled 
districts, comprehending three-fourths of the island, it was 
resolved to make one grand, united effort to capture the 
Oyster Bay and Big Eiver tribes, by drawing a line from 
"Waterloo Point on the east to Lake Echo on the west, and 
driving the Blacks into Tasman's Peninsula, at the south-east 
corner of the island. 

The Survey Department was severely taxed on this 
occasion, as everything depended upon a knowledge of the 
country. But therein lay the weakness of the scheme. It 
was long before the days of trigonometrical survey in the 
colony. Men took up land before survey, and the adjustment 
of acreage between neighbours was an established source of 
contention. Even prominent points of physical features were 
incorrectly laid down. As it was impossible to do better at 
the time, the leaders of parties were each provided with a 
copy of the little map published by Dr. Eoss, editor of the 
Courier y by which they were expected to guide their march. 


by Google 


To appreciate the obstacles meeting the adventurous trackers, 
the nature of the country should be understood. 

To illustrate the difficulties of Bush exploration in Tas- 
mania, the relation of an experience of the writer may be 
pardoned. It was in 1842 that much excitement prevailed 
in Hobart Town, about a Fall 200 feet in depth, which 
was almost in sight of the settlement Accompanied by 
my friend Mr. George Washington Walker, the ex-Quaker 
Missionary, so called, with others, under the guidance of 
Mr. Dickenson, the florist, I went to visit this wonderful 
sight. The only way then known, and that which we had 
to follow, was first to ascend Mount Wellington, climbing 
over dislocated masses of greenstone rocks, crossing fallen 
trees of huge masfnitude, and piercing a thicket that was an 
enemy to broad-cloth. Passing over the mountain, we came 
to a narrow river, issuing from the Saddle, and finding its 
exit in North-west Bay. There was little water, fortunately, 
as our only path was in its bed, leaping from rock to rock, 
and occ6isionally dropping into the icy stream. Again and 
again we tried the margin, but were repulsed at every triaL 
So dense was the scrub, that the guide assured us that with 
a tomahawk, in a similar place, he could make but a quarter 
of a mile's progress in eight hours. 

It was while resting at the summit'of the Falls, siirrounded 
by the wild triumphs of Nature, that I heard the story of ii 
lost one. A London school-fellow of mine had gone to sea. 
In one voyage he came to Hobart Town. Attracted by the 
beauty of Mount Wellington, and believing it easy of access, 
he and a mate started away from the vessel, earning a few 
biscuits with them. Five days had passed without their 
return, though soldiers were sent from town with bugles, and 
constables with fire-arms, to attract the ears of the lost sailors. 
At length a man ploughing near Brown's Eiver, quite on the 
other side of the range, observed a human form slowly creep- 
ing through the forest. It was the unfortunate young man, 
in almost senseless exhaustion. Two days passed before he 
was capable of telling his story. They had gained the top, 
but missed their way downward. The biscuits were soon 
consumed, and the hunger of the Bush assailed them. After 
losing their clothing, and experiencing severe wounds, from 
the sharp rocks and thorny forest, they came to the head of 


by Google 


a great waterfall — the spot where our party were camping. 
There one of them, whose mind had been wandering for some 
time, suddenly shrieked out " Mother ! " darted on one side, 
and was never seen again. His skeleton has not been dis- 
covered. How the survivor got down he knew not ; but 
the effect upon the poor fellow was sad enough for years 

This was partly the sort of country to be threaded by 
three thousand people, with inadequate appliances, in an 
enterprise requiring the utmost circumspection, and against a 
people as sagacious as Indians in forest lore, and whose dark 
bodies would be indistinctly observed in the obscurity of a 
Bush so impervious to sunlight. 

The Government Order described the routes as well as 
they could then be indicated. The object was to drive the 
Natives from other parts into the county of Buckingham, 
then forming the southern, settled, side of the island, and 
through that to the neck of Forrestier's Peninsula. 

This isthmus of land, called East Bay Neck, is rather flat, 
and only a few hundred yards in width. It unites to the 
Main the Peninsula of Forrestier, so called by Commodore 
Baudin after the French Minister of Marine. That again is 
connected with Tasman's Peninsula by Eagle Hawk Neck, a 
smaller isthmus than the other. At the time that Tasman's 
Peninsula was occupied by convict penal stations, to prevent 
runaways getting into Forrestier's Peninsula, and so on to 
the Main, fierce dogs were chained across Eagle Hawk Neck, 
in addition to the guard of soldiers. Though flat, the im- 
mediate neighbourhood of East Bay Neck is high land, and 
scrubby, miserable country. The rocks are chiefly Silurian 
and carboniferous strata, broken by granite hills, pierced by 
greenstone veins, or altered by basaltic contact to a geometrical 
parallelism, like the tesselated pavement of Eagle Hawk Neck. 
A bay divides the Forrestier's Peninsula from the granite 
land of the east coast, terminating in Schouten's Island, two- 
thirds of which consists of granite and one-third of green- 
stone. Its neighbouring Peninsula, Tasman's, exhibits the 
volcanic element in great force, causing disruptions among 
the anthracitic coal-beds. 

The Government Order expressed a desire for the magis- 
trates to get the force organized in parties of ten, with a 


by Google 


leader and guide. The military commanders were to be 
accompanied by some of the Roving Parties that had been 
out after the Blacks, and who were^therefo re, judged valuable 
auxiliaries to the movement. The Tiehet-of- Leave men, as 
occupying the first social step towards freedom, were to be 
treated with more distinction than the ordinary convicts, who 
would be in the field as assigned servants of patriotic settlers ; 
magistrates were to give each prisoner a written pass with his 
division described, and exercise discretion about intrusting 
some with fire-arms. Fires were to be kept burning on 
certain hills, as marks to steer by. 

Mr. Surveyor-General Frankland has the credit of forming 
the general outline of the scheme, though ably assisted by 
Major Shaw. 

The change of policy astonished many, while approved of 
by most. The idea of the Line was a source of merriment 
with those who were the political enemies of Government. 
One of the heroes of the times, whom I knew in Melbourne 
afterwards, explained the scheme thus : " Look here — it was 
just like this. Suppose I said I would catch all the fish 
coming down the Yarra, and put a little net in the middle, 
leaving all the rest of the stream open, I guess I wouldn't 
catq)i many.*' Mr. Gregson ridiculed the whole affair, as like 
climbing up Mount Wellington, 4000 feet high, for an easy 
way to get whales, by harpooning from its summit. The 
Launceston Advertiser was delighted to have an opportunity 
of attacking the authorities by a hit at the editor of the 
semi-official paper, the Hohart Town Courier ^ that had just 
then, by arrangement, announced the plan that should be 
adopted, and which was gazetted a day or two only after. 

" While we give," says the Advertiser of September 27th, 
" to the kind-hearted, and worthy, but invisible editor of the 
Courier every credit for his advice of a Cordon to catch the 
Blacks, and then to place them on Tasman's Peninsula, we 
must just say that it is one of those visionary schemes to be 
wished for, but not practicable. It no doubt reads very prettily 
thus : * Let a cordon be drawn across the island early in the 
morning, and before night drive all the Blacks in that division 
up in one comer ; and mind, men, do not shoot or hurt one, 
but catch them all alive, oh t and be very careful you don't 
hurt them, and if they should attempt to run away from you. 


by Google 


tell them to stop, or you will certainly shoot, and the bare * 
words will arrest them, only you must first learn them the 
language in which it is spoken.' It is little better than 
idiocy to talk of surrounding and catching a group of active, 
naked — mind, naked — men and women, divested of all burdens 
of all sorts," &c. 

The Sydney Australian of October had the following article 
upon that month's intended movements in the southern isle : 
" We call the present warfare against a handful of poor, 
naked, despicable savages, a Humbug in every sense of the 
word. Every man in the island is in motion, from the 
Governor downwards to the meanest convict. The mercer 
dons his helmet, and deserts his counter, to measure the 
dimensions of the butcher's beef, or the longitude of his own 
tapes, with his broadsword. The farmer's scythe and reaping- 
hook are transmuted to the coat of mail and bayonet ! The 
blacksmith, from forging shoes for the settler's nag, now 
forges the chains to enslave, and whets the instruments of 
death ! ! These are against savages whose territory in point 
of fact this very armed host has usurped ! ! Savages who 
have been straitened in their means of subsistence by that 
very usurpation ! ! ! Savages who knew not the language, 
nor the meditations of their foes, save from the indiscriminate 
slaughter of their own people." 

The important public announcement of proceedings con- 
nected with the Line operations was issued September 25th, 
1830. The preamble ran thus : — 

" The community being called upon to act en masse on the 
7th October next, for the purpose of capturing those hostile 
tribes of the iiatives, which are daily committing renewed 
atrocities upon the settlers," &c. 

The Oyster Bay and Big Eiver tribes must at least be 
captured. Major Douglas was to have his chain of posts 
from the east coast by St. Patrick's Head, across to Campbell 
Town, and thence to the Lake River, aided by Major Gray, 
Mr. Batman, &c. Each party of ten was to have a leader. 
Parts of the 63rd, 57th, and 17th Regiments, besides a host 
of constables, were to be reinforced by the whole body of 
men settlers. Particular directions were given to the several 
parties as to their duties, and the localities they should 
occupy on specified days. 


by Google 


The very active magistrate of Oatlands, Mr. Anstey, had 
a powerful force of vohmteers and their assigned servants. 
Captain Donaldson was to hasten from K'orfolk Plains toward 
Lake Arthur and Great Lake, nearly 4000 feet ahove the 
sea level, to arrest any escape of Blacks to the westward 
mountains. Captain Went worth should take the Shannon, 
Ouse, and Clyde country, west central. 

All were to march onward in successive stages. The daily 
ration to each person, in a weekly allotment, was 3 oz. of 
sugar, J oz. of tea, 2 lbs. of flour, IJ lbs. of meat. Thel 
object avowed in the Proclamation was "to capture and 
raise them (the Natives) in the scale of civilization, by 
placing them under the immediate control of a competent 
establishment, from whence they will not have it in their 
power to escape and molest the white inhabitants of the 

Among the Leaders of Parties co-operating with the military 
and magistracy were Messrs. Walpole, G. Kobertson, Wedge, 
Emmett, Brodribb, Sherwin, J. Batman, H. Batman, Tortosa, 
Pearce, Massey, Myers, Hobbs, Semott, Layman, G. Scott, 
Monisby, Allison, Franks, Flaxmore, G. Evans, Hunison, 
Cox, Allison, Armytage, Russell, Thomas, Jones, Patterson, 
Kimberley, Espie, Lackay, Stansfield, Cawthome, Cassidy, 
Mills, Proctor, Stacey, Steele, Symott, Shone, McDonald, 
Gatehouse, Dodge, Currie, Kirby, Lloyd, Billett, Cottrell, 
Ritchie, Mofiarty, Herring, Lawrence, Gmy, Gibson, Brumby, 
Pyke, Griffiths, Darke, Campbell, Henderson, Saltmarsh, 
Christian, Bonney, Giblin, Collins, Smith, White, Ralston, 
Adams, A. McDonald, H. McDonald, Hayse, Lalng, Spratt, 
Geiss, Ramsey, Csesar, Clark, Barker, Hey wood. Brown, 
Tully, Ring, C. Walker, Shulty, Donaghue, Hawthorn, 
Cunningham, Doran, Brodie, AUardyce, Ballantyne, Colbert, 
Milton, Ho wells. Green, Nicholas, Fisher, Mason. Captain 
Vicary and Captain Moriarty were supposed to be in charge 
of the roving parties. Mr. Franks was chief guide in the 
Oatlands District. 

There were 119 leaders of parties, with a guide to each, 
making other 119. In addition to the array of soldiers, and 
hundreds of constabulary, there were 738 convict assigned 
servants attached to the Line, A considerable number of 
free labouring men ranged themselves in the parties. Ticket- 


by Google 


of -leave men assembled. Altogether, there were about 3000 
men engaged in the Line operations. A noble gathering 
of Tasmanian bom youths took an active part in the field, 
as skirmishers in front, and proved their excellent Bush 

The commissariat arrangements were efficiently managed 
by the Deputy Assistant Commissary General Browne, and 
more successfully than by his namesake in the Crimea. 
Drays and pack-horses were engaged for the conveyance of 
provisions, and peremptory orders were issued that none were 
to leave the Line for rations. Boots were in great demand, 
though due notice was given for each man to bring a couple 
of pairs with him. The rocks played sad havoc with the 
leather. Thus we have Captain Mahon writing to Major 
Douglas on the route : " I have worn out two new pairs of 
strong boats since I left Oatlands, and in a few more days I 
shall, I fear, be as naked as the men." Trousers and jackets 
were also in heavy request. I copied a hastily-written note 
of the Governor's to the Colonial Secretary in town, begging 
for speedy transmission of 140 pairs of trousers, 90 pairs of 
•boots, and 50 jackets, with thia remark : " The men employed 
in the roving parties I find almost destitute of clothing^ from 
their having been employed almost incessantly in scouring 
the scrub." There was an allowance of a quarter of a pound 
of tobacco a week ; and, after some complaint, half an ounce 
of soap a day was issued. 

Due provision was made for warlike materials. In addi- 
tion to the weapons taken on the route, there was a depot 
established at Oatlands, as a central station, containing 
1000 stand of arms, 30,000 rounds of cartridge, and 300 
handcuffs; the last named being in excess of the whole 
number of Aborigines, for whose capture such formidable 
preparations were made. 

It was a very anxious time for Colonel Arthur. He had 
but just succeeded, after years of trouble, in putting an end 
to the exploits of the Dick Turpin gentry, that used to ride 
across the country in bands, like the Moss-troopers of old. 
And now, in calling out so large a number of the able-bodied 
men of the colony, he could not but feel concerned about the 
security of life and property in a penal settlement. There 
were many suffering the penalty of double conviction, and 


by Google 


requiring close retention ; there were others only just subdued 
by the strength of Government, who would be too ready to 
recommence their predatory employment in the confusion of 
affairs. Another cause of anxiety lay in the arming of as- 
signed servants, and permitting them to roam the Bush 
-without adequate oversight and guard. Some had assured 
the authorities that such men would embrace this favourable 
opportunity to rise in rebellion, and establish, as had more 
than once been threatened, an island home for the prisoner 
class, emancipating themselves, ejecting the free, and estab- 
lishing an independent government of their own. A more 
probable difficulty lay in the engagement of convicts, dead in 
the sight of the law, as guardians of the public peace ; for 
nearly all the constabulary belonged to that condition of 
society. One who was a bondman thus refers to the con- 
dition of such parties : " The Government had placed them 
in a situation different from that which the law had directed ; 
they had acted as free men, and with free men ; and when 
once permitted to do so, could the law or any known power 
compel them to return to their former servitude ? " But the 
Tasmania Eeview is delighted to acknowedge that " Fifteen 
hundred men of that class are now with arms in their hands, 
anxiously desirous of showing that they are trustworthy upon 
all occasions." The Eeview was the advocate of the £man- 
cipatists and Ticket-of-leave men. 

The town, at least, must be secured. The gaol must not 
be freed of its inmates, nor the treasury looted of its contents. 
A Town Guard was inaugurated ; Major K Abbott was 
nominated Commandant. It was a jolly time for the Hobart 
Town citizens. Government was the liberal source of supply, 
stnd an open-house was established. Ration rum was pro- 
nounced of good quality, and was in full demand. A worthy 
tailor assured me that it was the merriest time he ever spent. 
The officers established themselves at Mr. Hodgson's cele- 
brated Macquarie Hotel. The speech of one, after a mess 
dinner, has been bequeathed to posterity, and exhibits the 
chivalrous patriotism of the period. " Gentlemen," said 
Captain Kemp, " you see before you a sample of what this 
colony can produce, which we are now one and all making 
nn unanimous effort to insure the enjoyment of in peace and 
comfort ; — if, when not only the necessaries, but many of the 


by Google 


luxuries of life, are thus bountifully supplied us, we are not 
loyal, we shall never be loyal. Fill your glasses, gentlemen : 
the health of His Excellency" the Lieutenant-Governor, and 
success to the volunteers ! Hip — hip — hip — hurrah ! " 

An old soldier, hearing the officers talking largely of their 
office, could not forbear saying, " Gentlemen, you may call 
yourselves marshals, generals, or colonels, but the duties 
assigned to you are usually performed by a corporal's guard." 

When all were getting ready, the Governor thought it 
proper that the blessing of Heaven should be implored upon 
the expedition. Prayers were ordered to be offered up for 
this object on the Sunday before the setting out. While 
those employing freedom of language in public ministrations 
were left to their own mode of carrying out this obligation, 
the Episcopalians of the colony were agitated upon the prot 
priety of the form to be adopted. As their spiritual head — 
their Bishop — resided several thousands of miles off, at 
Calcutta, and the Archdeacon in another country, this addi- 
tional call upon their devotions was committed to the 
care of the Chaplain, the Rev. W. Bedford. That good 
man, without doubt, prepared a very suitable form of sup- 
plication, but which, nevertheless, subjected him to public 

While entreating the Divine favour on behalf of an enter- 
prise which would, if successful, be attended with the blood- 
shedding of the Natives, an urgent request was offered for 
their speedy conversion to Christianity. This was held to 
be slightly inconsistent with the principles of the New 
Testament, though admitted to be agreeable to the practice 
of all Christian governments. It might not be unlike the 
conduct of the warlike Bishop of Norwich, who, after making 
Wat Tyler's rebels kneel and confess their sins, very episco- 
pally gave them absolution, and afterwards very baronially 
ordered their throats to be cut. 

But pretended exception was taken as to the prayer itself. 
It was declared **of importance to know who were the clergy . 
by whom the English Bench of Bishops were represented." 
The ritualistic fervour of the writer led him further to say, 
" However unimportant may be the mere 'fording of such a 
prayer,' yet it is of importance that the public should know 
by whom it was composed. There is nothing connected 

Digitized by VjOOQLC 



with, the Church, not even the Articles of its Faith, so 
jealously looked after as the Liturgy." Another political 
moralist, at the end of this unfortunate expedition, referred 
to the blasphemy of this Address to the Deity, and the 
hypocritical hope of engaging the services of Heaven in the 
cause of injustice and cruelty, adding, " the very arrogance, 
presumption, and impiety of this special prayer insured its 

The several parties were at length got under weigh. It is 
inexpedient to follow in their individual routes, and detail 
the conspicuous events of their, progress. That which gained 
the most applause was the Launceston corps, under the com- 
mand of Captain Donaldson. Nearly 350 men were led 
forward in good fighting condition, for they were the only 
division fully supplied with guns and ammunition. They 
passed westward to Westbury, and then made their course 
southward toward Lake Echo, threading their way amidst 
the rocky intricacies of the basaltic interior, and sighting 
the Bluffs of Quamby, Dry, and Miller, keeping the Mac- 
quarie River to their left, and the snow-clad western ranges 
to the right. 

From the Hon. J. H. Wedge, who was one of the leading 
performers in the movement, I learn that the captain's de- 
tachments kept admirably in order, and met at Kemp's hut> 
by Lake Sorell, the source of the Clyde, and one of a series 
of noble sheets of water on the elevated basaltic plateau in 
the centre of the island. 

A Public Notice awarded praise to Captain Donaldson's 
party. And well did they earn the glory of such a notice. 
From a veteran shepherd, who had been guide to a part of 
the captain's forces, I gathered some infoimation of the trials 
of the road. He conducted a party of eighteen from near 
Deloraine to the top of a bluff some 4000 feet high. Torn 
by the scrub, hungry and wet, their camp was most miserable. 
Without tents, they had to pass an inclement night on that 
bleak hill, around the fire, or stowed away in the hollow of 
trees. He told me that several wanted to go home, their 
sense of discomfort overcoming their love of adventure and 
their devotion to duty. The roaring of a grand cascade, 
300 feet in height, would have given them more pleasure 
had they the advantage of fine weather, dry boots, better 


by Google 


rations, and less aching limbs ; as it was, few of the wearied 
men would turn aside to see the spectacle. Old Hughes 
told me he picked up a twelve-pound bag of flour there, 
which had probably been dropped by some marauding 

The other divisions had probably fewer miles to travel 
than the north-west one, but some had a more fearful country 
to pass. One had to go from Quamby's Bluff of the Western 
mountains, eastward to Campbell Town, then along the lovely 
valley of the Avoca, still more eastward by St. Paul's river, 
and southward and eastward to the sea at Swanport. Another 
pressed from Broad Marsh to Eussell's Falls of the Derwent, 
thence upward to Hamilton, Bothwell, and the Crescent Lake 
of the basaltic plateau. Captain Wentworth reached Brighton 
by the 16th inst., and walked along the banks of the Jordan 
to Jericho. There he was met by Major Douglas, and both 
made their way to Little Swanport on the coast. On the 
20th of October there was a connection from Eichmond to 
Prosser's Bay; and, four days after, from Sorell through 
Brushy Plains and White Marsh to the Bay. 

Every care was taken by Colonel Arthur to keep his fojces 
in order. Minute regulations were issued nearly every day. 
Copies of Greneral Orders were sent to the ditferent com- 
manders, who had to put their signature to the official 
document as an evidence that they had perused the same. 
Indeed, so active was the pen of the Governor, that some 
merriment was occasioned from the frequency of the missives 
and their occasional contradictions. 

The Colonel's presence was seen or felt everywhere ; none 
travelled more than he, none wrote more than he. He has 
been known to ride, in such a country too, for fifty miles in 
one day, to see his orders executed. An old hand described 
the sunshine of a visit, when the party were very dispirited 
from the vexatious difficulties of the route with the Governor 
smiling, and saying, "Cheer up, my lads.'* Such was his 
attention to duty that, though a devoted and an anxious 
husband, he refrained from running up to town at a season 
of conjugal solicitude ; and when the news of a birth came 
to him, he repelled the natural impulse to return, and stayed 
at his post. During one of his excursions along the Line, he 
got lost three days in Paradise ! This celebrated region of 



by Google 


impracticable travelling, lying between Sorell and the coast, 
received its appellation from a Bushman disgusted with its 
wretched country. 

Rumours about the Blacks were circulated with celerity, as 
they were invented with facility. The extreme solicitude of 
the Governor for news, and the desire of commanders to 
humour his passion, originated some remarkable and not very 
reliable stories. 

But where were the Natives? With thousands of men 
beating the Bush and scouring the Tiers, to what possible 
retreat could they fly I A tribe of forty, seen westward of 
J^orfolk Plains, were chased by one of the Ldne parties till 
they crossed the Shannon, and were lost in the labyrinths of 
the scrub. The baffled Whites left a notice of the affair on 
a piece of bark, and nailed this to a tree. Among the spoils 
collected from the fugitives were a chemise and a little child's 
frock. Jorgen Jorgenson saw them under circumstances which 
he narrates in a letter : — " As I went this morning over the 
Brown Mountain, rising a steep hill from a very deep gully, 
my horse began to rear and snort. Everything was thrown 
off,. saddle and all. My trousers were literally torn to pieces ; 
and, just as I had got the horse quieted, there stood over me 
three Blacks." Some men might have been nervous; but 
our heroic Dane informs us that he had but to draw his 
cutlass, when the warriors of the wilds scampered away. 

There were, of course, the usual rumours, with and without 
foundation, of the appearance of the Aborigines. Some 
sentries had heard one dark night the rush of many in the 
scrub, but could not discern their forms. Several rushes were 
heard, and the fire-sticks of the people were seen in the gloom. 
A man laid down his musket, while he stooped for some fire- 
wood, and received a spear in his leg. He seized a firenstick, 
and thew it at the enemy. Another spear penetrated his 
shoulder, when, without thinking anything of his musket, he 
shouted lustily for help. The approach of other sentries 
scattered the half-dozen Blacks. 

Mr. William Robertson, a well-known and wealthy settler, 
quite shocked the Governor in describing the Line as worse 
than an Act of Parliament ; for, while a coach-and-six could 
be driven through the latter, a waggon- and-eight might 
quietly pass the former. A force of Europeans could easily 


by Google 


have got through the ill-regulated Lme, much more the 
cunning foresters. Two or three instances were well known, 
after the completion of the movement, of Natives having 
burst by the sentries themselves. As the men could not 
possibly keep their lines, as many were too frightened to 
maintain the regulated distance from a neighbour, and as 
others loved companionship too well to smoke alone, the 
distance was not observed, even when practicable, and large 
gaps were left. 

The Government Orders were precise about preserving a 
certain distance. On October 17th, the Colonel again urged 
attention to this regulation. He then requested them to camp 
in parties of three at night, with a fire between the separate 
gatherings, and said the sentries should walk from the fire to 
and fro, but so as not to meet each other. In some of the 
best-regulated parties, after proceeding through the Bush for 
half' an hour, they would halt, for all to come up, and cry 1, 
2, 3, 4, &c., to ascertain if any were adrift. So little faith 
had Mr. Brodribb in the security of the Line, that he offered, 
as he assured me, to convey a letter for Colonel Arthur 
through any part of the Line without meeting an individual ; 
and, not a little to the Governor's vexation, he accomplished 
the feat. A settler chased one fellow by moonlight, but 
missed him all at once near some fallen, dead timber. Despair- 
ing of seeing him again, he carelessly turned to go away, when 
one of the supposed charred branches was slowly lowered 
before his astonished eyes, and a black carcass r&pidly rolled 
off into the thicket. 

The best story of the Line is in connection with Mr. Wal- 
pole, who has the merit of making the only capture, but at 
the cost of ruining the whole affair. Mr. Walpole himself 
furnished an account of his performance, in a communication 
dated October 29th, 1830 :— 

" I heard the Natives hunting, and, on going closer, saw 
their dogs. I watched them for four hours, and, on con- 
vincing myself that they were settled for the night, I returned 
for the rest of my pwrty, and in the evening placed them 
within three hundred yards of the Natives, where we waited 
until dawn of day (26th), and crept to one of the Natives, 
without being perceived by the inmates, until I caught one 
by the leg. There were five men in the hut, and the other 

H 2 


by Google 


four rushed out through the back, while some of the party 
were stooping to catch them. One, however, was caught 
while jumping into the creek, and two others shot. There 
were five other huts across the creek, in the centre of a very 
thick scrub." 

Mr. Surveyor "Wedge, in one of his letters to me, agrees 
with others that the precipitation of Mr. Walpole lost the 
Ldne an important capture. Instead of a man and a boy, the 
whole tribe might have been secured by giving proper notice 
to his superior officer. The subsequent fate of that tribe of 
forty individuals is thus mentioned by my valuable corre-* 
spondent : — 

"I am inclined to think that it warned them of their 
danger, and put them on the alert to escape from it ; and this 
they accomplished, a day or two afterwards, at or near Cherry- 
tree Hill, unknown to any at the time, except to the party 
upon whose encampment they sneaked unobserved, rushed 
past in a body, and speared, it was said, one of our men 
slightly in the leg. Why their escape was kept secret I am 
at a loss to imagine, unless, as was suggested to me by my 
informant, the party in question thought that discredit would 
attach to them if the fact was officially made known. The 
Lieutenant-Governor, being in ignorance that the Natives had 
escaped, the force was kept in its position a fortnight or more 
longer. At length an advance was ordered to East Bay 

There being evidence of the Natives being within the Line, 
every place on the route supposed to afford extra means of 
concealment was well searched. The Blacks had never been 
known to move at night, from superstitious fears ; but, being 
pressed by danger, they did not then hesitate travelling in 
darkness. A night of storm and an intensely black sky was 
selected for a rush at the Prosser's Eiver, a few miles from 
the coast, and therefore not far from the East Bay Neck. 
Several were seen to pass by Lieutenant Ovens* division, 
though a vigilant look-out was maintained. The country was 
described by one of the parties as being most difficult of 
access from rock and scrub, and as being heretofore unknown. 
Five roving parties of ten each were detached to search the 
locality believed to contain the Blacks, under leaders well 
understanding Bush duty. A rush was made upon that 


by Google 


portion of tlie Line occupied by the Richmond force, on the 
27th of October, by six men, who were driven back again. 
One Englishman dashed onward after the fugitives, and would 
have brought one down, had he not, in the very act of cock- 
ing his piece, tripped against a dead tree, and got a severe 
fall. Of the six, two were observed with blankets round 
their shoulders, while another carried a bundle of spears. 
An opossum hunting-party might have been taken, had not 
an officious constable given an untimely coo-ey for support. 

Great hopes were entertained of final success. The Courier 
gave forth a jubilant sound, and had ** no doubt but several 
hostile tribes were now enclosed." The bugles were ordered 
to stop their noisy intimations, which might alarm the game 
from the preserves. The Governor directed the settlers 
towards the East Bay Neck to keep " free from everything that 
might create alarm, or interrupt the passage of the fugitive 
Natives." They were, furthermore, " to keep themselves 
within their homesteads, and to avoid collecting their cattle, 
lighting fires, hallooing, shouting, or otherwise making a 
noise in the Bush, in order that nothing may present itself to 
deter the Aborigines from entering the Peninsula." Unhappy 
settlers ! 

Still further to elevate the hopes of the sanguine ruler, a 
letter was brought to him giving encouraging news from the 
prison dep6t of Swan Island. Mr. Eobinson thence an- 
nounced his success with some people outside the Line^ and 
not then intended to be trapped by the colonial forces, though 
a north-east expedition was resolved upon, if the southern 
one proved successful. The letter began : "I beg to acquaint 
your Excellency that a successful intercourse has been effected 
among those sanguinary tribes of Natives who have for so 
great a period infested the settled districts, and known as the 
Oyster Bay, Little Swanport, Ben Lomond, Cape Portland, 
and Piper's River Aborigines." Mr. Robinson further 
ventures to assert that "the whole aboriginal population 
could be brought together by the same means that has 
hitherto been adopted." 

Yet the several members of the Line were not so inspirited. 
At first the novelty of the occasion, the fun of an encamp- 
ment, the freedom of life, supported them in their march. 
But when the rain set in, and continued almost without 


by Google 


iiitennission for some weeks, the chivalry of the expedition 
was not so apparent. A friend described to me the scene 
on the Blue Hills, near Bothwell, the first night of camp. 
The sky was so clear, the air was so bracing, the fellowship 
was so good, that laughter and song carried the hours away 
till midnight; but when, just before dawn, the mountain 
fog crept over the bivouac with its penetrating chill, and a 
steady, heavy, cold rain succeeded, all Nature's gloom was 
reflected in the faces of the campaigners. It did not surprise 
many to hear of such desertions from duty as a letter from 
the Macquarie Eiver mentions, where the writer, who may 
have been one of the patriotic fair, indignantly exclaims : **I 
blush to the bone when I tell you that certain volunteers 
from this neighbourhood have crawled home from the Line 
within the last fortnight." Their ardour for the service had 
soon cooled, or they had lacked the spirit of the lame black- 
smith of Sorell, who, being unable to carry his wooden legs 
along so rough a line, nobly offered to do any work gratuitously 
for every volunteer from his Eichmond district. 

To complete success in repelling any possible advance 
of the imprisoned tribes. Colonel Arthur, on the 25th of 
October, recommended the formation of ahattiSy along the 
rear of the Ldney to entangle the fugitives. The forces were 
told to take advantage of long trunks of trees lying in a 
direction parallel to the line of position. By such they were 
to raise a palisade of sharpened sticks, cut from the Bush, 
which should be two or three inches thick, and driven into 
the ground, behind the logs, so as to prevent the passage 
of a man over the same. The abattis of trees felled for 
the purpose were to lie in the way. To make sure of no 
mistake, a pictorial illustration of the two was sent to each 

On the 30th of the month another Government Order 
congratulated the officers on their zeal in constructing these 
obstructives, and cutting down scrub in front. 

The " Three Thumbs " often appear before the eye of the 
reader of the Line proceedings. It was a district of singular 
advantage to a beleaguered enemy. The three hills were 
about two hundred yards apart, and were covered to the 
summit with huge Eucalypti trees, and a dense underwood, 
that made it almost wholly impervious to any but Natives. 


by Google 


The surrounding scrub was seven miles long from east to 
west, and from two to four broad. It was situated half a 
dozen miles to the south-west of Prosser's Bay, and therefore 
not far from the Peninsula. This Malakoff of the foe must 
be stormed. As, according to the Courier's Special Corre- 
spondent, " into this ambush the great body of the Blacks 
have embowered themselves," the place must be turned To 
quote still from the Dr. Eussell of the period : " The difficulties 
in accomplishing this are of course immense, but we trust 
not insurmountable, and the thing must be done." 

Accordingly, the siege was laid in due form. Three 
hundred of the very pick of the corps entered the Lines of 
the fortress, while others stretched themselves like a wall of 
circumvallation around the entrenched camp. The enemy, 
were known to be there. The invading and advancing force 
came now and then upon native fires, still smouldering. 
They saw chippings from newly-formed spears and waddies. 
But the persons of the savages were never to be seen. The 
Europeans, when unable to force the leafy, thorny breast- 
works, stood, like the modern artillerymen upon the Crimean 
heights, and threw a heavy fire upon the fortress which they 
could not gain. A continual discharge of musketry would, 
it was conjectured, drive out the concealed foe ; and, once in 
the more open glade, his capture would be certain. The 
anxious Governor directed the assault here and there, with 
encouraging enforcements of Eoman virtue, and hopeful 
expectations of a triumphant return with handcuffed 

Alas ! when :the exhausted troops entered this Sebastopol 
of the forest, they found it deserted of man, and silent but for 
the crackling of the flames. The enemy had yielded the 
fortification, and had retired to even stronger Eedans, 

This severe disappointment was not the only trial. As 
the few big, pattering drops gave warning of the coming 
storm, so rumours of movements in the rear of the Line 
indicated the outburst of new and more appalling outrages. 
Word came that defenceless homes were attacked by the 
enraged and hunted Natives. A hut near Jerusalem was 
robbed, and a poor woman speared to death. Fires began 
to redden the sky, and shrieks of terror told the tale of woe. 
A letter from Perth said that one hundred and fifty had 


by Google 


burst through the Cordon, and were plundering to the real* 
of Major Gray's, at Avoca. Thirty were seen and chased by 
the intrepid John Batman, who was successful in securing a 
good part of them, and tmthout bloodshed. 

The Launceston papers were annoyed at the defenceless 
state of the north, and asked why all the effort of the colony 
should be directed, to the alarm and desertion of settlements, 
for the capture of two tribes — ^those of Oyster Bay and Big 
River — as if others were not as sanguinary elsewhere. 

A northern magistrate wrote of four men being speared 
near Launceston, and said, ^* I have no person I can send 
after these Blacks. I have not one man that I can spare, 
nearly all the constables being out of the county, catching 
at the Blacks in Buckingham." 

Such stories increased the anxiety of the Grovemor to 
hurry on the movements of the East Bay Neck. Every 
officer was sure that, though some might have escaped the 
meshes of the net, the majority were still in front of the Line, 
and near the Forrestier's Peninsula. Forty parties of seven 
each, with four days' provisions, were sent forward. One of 
the Leaders told me that he saw in the Peninsula itself 
evidences that the Aborigines had been there, though not 
able to say how long before his reconnoitring. He saw sticks 
set up in the forest, stuck in the soil, pointing directions for 
those following. 

At length the Colonel commanding believed that the time 
had come for the final charge — ^the " Up, Guards, and at them " 
stage of the war. On the last day of October he issued an 
address to the Commanders. In that he said : 

" A few days must now terminate the great work in the 
most satisfactory manner, atd His Excellency earnestly hopes 
that the leaders will, for the remaining short period, continue 
to show the excellent spirit which has all along been so con- 
spicuous in their parties, for they will perceive that the 
advance of the scouring parties will render redoubled vigilance 
necessary on the part of those who guard the Line, as the 
Natives, when disturbed in the interior, will undoubtedly 
increase their efforts to break through the position." 

This was followed by another Government Notice, relative 
to the final operations, and dated the same day. The order 
closed thus: — 


by Google 


" By this movement, which should, if possible, be eflfected by 
twelve o'clock on Monday, the line will remain of its original 
strength, and the scouring parties will be in readiness to 
advance, which they will do as soon as the vacancies have 
been closed. These parties will then advance towards the 
south-east, driving the Natives in that dh'ection, or capturing 
them, and on the fourth day, will reach East Bay Neck, 
where they will receive further orders. 

" The investing line which will remain in position, must, 
during these four decisive days, put forth every effort to 
prevent the possibility of the Natives passing through them, 
as the tribes will naturally redouble their attempts to pass 
when they are disturbed in the interior." 

When the force was thus extended from Sorell to the sea, 
the **Long Black Line" extended thirty miles, and gave a 
space of forty-five yards between the men. The right wing 
was at Sorell, the left at Spring Bay, and the centre at the 
White Marsh. The Neck was gained. All were in excited 
expectation. Every possible precaution was taken to prevent 
escape. The very shore was watched. The capturing parties 
were told off. The Neck was crossed, the Peninsula entered, 
the search made, hut nothing found! Not a Black was 
there ! 

The Lin^ had proved so far a failure, though its indirect 
advantages were great, as the Natives were shown the 
formidable resources of Government, and the absolute neces- 
sity for their submission to authority. 

The work was over, and the labourers could leave the field. 
The Rev. Mr. West, in his * History of Tasmania,' has 
expressively written : **The Settler-Soldiers returned to their 
homes, their shoes worn out, their garments tattered, their 
hair long and shaggy, with beards unshaven, their arms 
tarnished, but neither blood-stained nor disgraced." 

The cost of this expedition to the Government was acknow- 
ledged to be thirty thousand pounds — a considerable and 
welcome expenditure to many of the colonists ; though, con- 
sidering other losses, and private outlay, Mr. G. A. Robinson, 
who was ever opposed to the project, spoke thus of it 
publicly : " The entire cost to the Colony was upwards of 
seventy thousand pounds, and the result was the capture of 
one Black." 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


An English paper afterwards made merry over tlie subject, 
having satisfied itself that the circumstances were these : — 
that a soldier had killed a Native, and, if punished for the 
fault, all would have been well ; that as this was not done, 
the Blacks arose in wrath; and, lastly, that it had taken 
6000 Europeans to quell their revolt ! ! 

But the worthy Governor was **game" to the last, and, 
conscious of having done his best, professed to be satisfied. 
He dismissed his army with dignity, acknowledged their 
service with gratitude, and foresaw their speedy deliverance 
from Native troubles. 

His parting Order, November 26th, 1830, held forth the 
belief that future good would follow the efforts thus made. 
The poor creatures, seeing the hopelessness of the struggle, 
might now be induced to surrender. He could not contem- 
plate their possible extermination but as ** an event fearfully 
to be apprehended." He was happy to announce the tidings 
of the capture of a tribe in the North, without bloodshed. 
He confessed his conviction that " it would be in vain to 
expect any reformation in these savages while allowed to 
remain in their native state." Those Natives already secured, 
about thirty, would form the nucleus of an asylum on some 
neighbouring island. 

At a self-congratulatory meeting of the Liners, held at 
Hobart Town, on December 22nd, 1830, resolutions were 
passed denouncing the Blacks, while praising the plans ahd 
deeds of the Governor. Public dinners became the order of 
the day throughout the colony. Should not colonists rejoice, 
when Government had spent among them thirty thousand 
pounds of British money 1 

While the loud hurrah of exulting meetings, the jingling 
of convivial glasses, and the trumpet note of Government 
House, fell on the ear as symbols of rejoicing after victory, 
there boomed in the distance the sound of conflict. From 
the depths of forest, and from the expanse of plains, a cry of 
horror was heard. Men returned to their habitations to find 
but smouldering ruins, and sought their families to behold 
but ghastly corpses. Wives waited the return of husbands, 
transfixed with spears. Mothers coched for children, brained 
by waddies. The wrath of an infuriated race was unappeased, 
and the memory of their murdered kindred was yet unavenged. 


by Google 


The country, scoured in vain for their presence, now echoed 
with the shrieks of their victims. 

And what were to be the future operations against them 1 
W,eTe fresh commandoes in preparation 1 Were new and more 
vigorous assaults to be made upon those naked savages "J If 
the thousands of men, with the thousands of pounds spent, 
were insufficient to overcome the feeble and dislocated bands 
of sable wanderers, were more men and greater expenses to be 
employed 1 

When all the power of 'a strong Government, and the war- 
like appliances of advanced civilization, were exhausted in the 
vain attempt, the simple influence of kindness in the heart of 
a brave man subdued these barbarians ; and, bound with the 
mighty cords of manly sympathy, the brutal bloodshedders 
were conducted in triumph to the city of their enemies, and 
prevailed upon in peace to forsake the home of their youth, 
and the graves of their fathers. 

Having been at one time favoured with the reflections 
upon this interesting epoch of Colonial History by the Hon. 
John Helder Wedge, I beg to publish the following extract 
from his letter : — 

** A plan of the expedition, and the carrying it out in detail, 
was, as might be expected from the political feeling of hostility 
that was entertained against the head of the Government, 
criticized and commented upon in no measured terms : and 
these criticisms were not unaccompanied with some leaven 
of personal abuse. I thought at the time, and I still think, 
that the circumstances which imperatively required that an 
attempt should be made to put an end to the deadly warfare 
that was carried on between the occupiers of the out-stations 
and the ^Natives, and mostly to the advantage of the latter, were 
not considered with that liberality of feeling to which they 
were entitled. Frequent, and almost daily, representations 
were made to the Government of the depredations and 
murders committed by the Natives. Neither sawyers, splitters, 
shepherds, nor herdsmen could attend to their avocations 
with safety ; nor could the solitary hut-keeper show himself 
out of doors, without the danger of being speared, even when 
not the least suspicion was entertained of there being any- 
thing to apprehend. A general feeling of insecurity was felt 
throughout the colony j and a demand, as with one voice, 


by Google 


was made that the Government should adopt measures iot the 
greater security of the colonists and their property. I believe 
there was scarcely any possessing a knowledge of the country 
and experienced in traversing the forests, and knew anything 
of the habits of the !N"atives, who anticipated any other result 
than a failure of the expedition, so far as their capture was 
concerned. And I was led to believe, being present when 
the Lieut. -Governor was speaking on the subject, that few 
were less sanguine of success than His Excellency." 

He thus closes : " I could not at the time suggest, nor 
have I since been able to surmise, how the forces could have 
been otherwise employed, which would have afforded a greater 
chance of success — nor did I ever meet with any of the 
fault-finders who could do so." 

A year had passed, and one of their great jubilees was 
approaching for the Aborigines. This was the season of 
swans' eggs, so favourite a food with the people of the forest. 
It was a time of tribal reunion, the anniversary of family 
greetings and festive joy. A wooded, rocky point of land 
projected into the eastern waters ; it was known as the 
Schouten Peninsula. Too barren and rough for colonization, 
too distant for a visit, it was a secure asylum for the feathered 
race — a fitting scene for swan-like love. This was the place, 
the period, the occasion, of annual pilgrimages to the 
Aborigines. A large party, a mingling of tribes, had taken 
advantage of the lull after the storm of war, and had ventured 
by stealthy steps to the old spot. ; But their tracks had been 
sighted, their destination guessed, and their extermination 
was at once resolved upon. 

The alarm was sounded. !N'othing seemed easier than their 
capture. Here was the proper locality for Line operations. 
A Gordon could be drawn across the narrow isthmus, and the 
Blacks would be secured at leisure. 

Troops, constables, settlers, gathered in joyful confidence 
at the gateway of the Peninsula. It was at the close of 
October, 1831, the loveliest season of the bright little island, 
the spring of beauty and hope. The Neck was but a mile 
across, and upon this the Europeans took up their position. 
It was a highly romantic region. Five cones threw up their 
forest heads far above the gigantic Eucalypti of the valleys. 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

i ■■■■■.■j.j.,'. ..V.'. .. 



tized'by Google 


They stood as guardian genii to protect the last home of the 
wasted people. Their bastion-like masses were strengthened 
by intricate scrub and pathless woods, whose black shadows 
fell upon the hostile band in front. The enemy sought to 
gain the barbican by fire. Soon the flames were seen pene- 
trating the dark gorges, and climbing the rocky steeps. The 
colonial force constructed their huts, established their sentries, 
and kept up the vast fires for observation and destruction. 
Gradually long, black lanes were made through the thicket, 
and fresh arrivals from the townships around assured the 
Whites of victory. 

It was full moon at the time of a visit of a friend, who 
subsequently described! to me his admiration of this stirring 
scene. The soft light fell so calmly upon the roaring flames, 
as if to rebuke their violence, and each hilly cone, wreathed 
with fire, vainly, like Hercules of old, sought relief from the 
fatal robe. 

But when nothing but charred timber or smouldering afehes 
remained, and when the moon had evening after evening 
decreased its light till darkness rested upon the encampment 
at night, then the time for watchfulness arrived, lest the 
imprisoned should escape. Troops were gradually assembling ; 
and while some guarded the entrance with dogs, fires, and 
arms, others were to pass down the peninsula and seize or 
kill the egg-gatherers. 

In fear, but determination, the poor creatures waited for 
the favourable moment. A night of misty blackness came. 
They had crept as closely as they dared to the Line^y their 
very dogs preserving silence, and then, with abound and cry, 
followed by their yelping friends, they dashed by the fires 
and guards, and gained the dark forest beyond in safety. 
The only captures made by the formidable besiegers were a 
few young puppies, distanced in the flight. 


Allusion has already been made to the system of offering 
a premium of five pounds for the capture of a Black. 

It was from the very perplexity of affairs that Colonel 
Arthur sought the advice as well as co-operation of the most 


by Google 


experienced and intelligent of the settlers. The leading 
magistrates were addressed by circular. In reply, James 
Simpson, Esq., J.P., of Campljell Town, wrote, Nov. 18tli, 
1828, recommending the following up of one particular tribe, 
with all available strength, night and day, till fairly run down 
and secured. He thought the engagement of native women 
serviceable. While transcribing Mr. Simpson's letter, I 
read on the turned-down comer, in the handwriting of the 
upright Colonel Arthur : " The expedient of taking some of 
the women may be attempted — in fact, anything founded 
in prudence, and prosecuted with humanity and firmness, I 
shall approve." 

Thomas Anstey, Esq., J.P., of Oatlands, near the centre 
of the island, took the most active part. Among his sugges- 
tions, forwarded Nov. 14th, 1828, were these : That parties 
should be organized, under suitable leaders, to be in pursuit, 
and that a few active men should be selected to look after 
Native fires at day, lie in ambush near, and make their 
capture in the cold morning twilight. " To rid the country 
of this scourge," he adds, " a considerable number of troops 
will be required." It was his opinion that the employment 
of prisoners, or at least of men seeking an extension of 
freedom, would be most advantageous, as these would 
endeavour to obtain a free pardon by their labours. 

The Governor resolved to try the scheme, and directed the 
magistrate to make a sele^ction as a trial. By the end of 
November four had been chosen. Three were ticket-of-leave 
men seeking emancipation — John Hopkins, Samuel May, 
and William Wakeman, all well acquainted with the native 
life in the Bush. The fourth, still in the primary class of 
bondage, was John Dan vers, a man of great ability and energy. 

Other persons in a better position of life were engaged ; 
as Messrs. Gilbert Robertson, John Batman, Jorgen Jorgen- 
son, Nicholas Tortosa, James Hopkins, Mayhew Tatteraall, 
John Eldon, W; Grant, R Tyrrell, Peter Scott, W. Wilson, 
Greorge James, W. Holmes, Alexander McKay, Surridge, 
Parish, Emmett, Brodribb, Gorringe, &c. Mr. Roberts took 
four Bruni Blacks after a Port Davey tribe. Mr. Tortosa 
was to receive one thousand acres, in addition to the five 
pounds* bounty, if he caught twenty in twelve months. 

But little was really done until the energies and experience 


by Google 


of Mr. Anstey were brought into requisition. In May, 1829, 
all leaders of parties were directed to make their monthly 
reports to him. It was at his suggestion that twelve men 
were placed under the authority of Mr. John Batman, six 
with Mr. Nicholas of Campbell Town, five with Mr. Sherwin 
of the Clyde, and five with Mr. Doran of New Norfolk. A 
man named John Small was promised a free pardon should 
he succeed in bringing in t^n captives during the year of his 
engagement. While five pounds was paid for the possession 
of an adult, and two pounds for a child, a promise of grants 
of land was held out to the leaders. . 

Mr. Anstey entered heartily upon his work. In devotion 
to duty, he reminds one of the ancient Spartan. An anecdote 
is recorded of him that suggests the parting word of th© 
Spartan mother — "Return a victor, or upon your shield." 
When his son, then out with the Line after the Blacks, 
suffering from the hardships of the Bush in an inclement 
season, wished to return home, Mr. Anstey forwarded this 
decided reply : " Stay till all is lawfully dismissed. If you 
return before, the house will be closed against you." 

His children were energetic and intelligent like himself. 
One son became an influential legislator in South Australia. 
Another (Chisholm Anstey) was well known as a prominent 
member of the British House of Commons. His son George 
distinguished himself in the Black War. On the 27th of 
July, 1830, some Natives were heard prowling about the 
farm in the night. Heading a small number of servants, the 
lad, being then but sixteen, dashed after the enemy. For- 
tunately for the pui'suers, the ground was covered with snow, 
and the track coidd be readily followed in the darkness. 
The tribe was gained, a charge was made, four were captured, 
and the rest fled in terror. Not a shot was tired. Among 
the spoils were fourteen dogs, fifteen blankets, and five spears. 
The colony rang with acclamations at the daring deed, and 
the courage of many a drooping Bush tracker revived. The 
Governor honoured the brave boy with a Gazette notice, and 
the gift of five hundred acres of land. 

The sequel of the incident is soon told. Three of the four 
were of the weaker sex. When they were being led to 
Hobart Town by the constables, the man shammed illness 
in the wattle-perfumed valley of Bagdad. The constables 


by Google 


were compelled to place the agonized fellow in a wheel- 
barrow, and trundle him to a hut for the night. Leaving 
him there to groan in peace, the guardians indulged in some 
sleep, being perfectly assured of the safety of the prisoner. 
The dark and subtle captive climbed the chimney, in the 
silence of night, and regained his forest mates. 

One part of Mr. Anstey's scheme, the employment of 
soldiers, was not so desirable. They were slow in move- 
ment, they needed Bush-craft, they iU sorted with civilians, 
they were soon demoralized, they stood little fatigue, they 
were often cruel, and their red coats were ready signals. 
A corporal with a party of the 40th earned no reputation 
by a most atrocious massacre of a large number of men, 
women, and children, upon whose camp-fires they came 

The difficulty which our troops have often experienced 
while Bush-fighting with the Maories calls to mind a project 
brought forward in June, 1829, by Mr. Horace Eowcroft, 
and seconded by Major Gray, to introduce a number of New 
Zealanders into Van Diemen's Land. It was contended that, 
as they in their country sold slaves for a musket each, they 
would be quite willing to catch Tasmanian Black-fellows at 
the same rate. Their great intelligence, their crafty policy, 
and their warlike bearing, with the use of weapons better 
adapted than " Brown Bess " to forest contests, made the 
plan acceptable to many. But the humane Colonel Arthur 
feared the massacre of his black subjects by the cannibal 
Maories, and rejected the proposal. 

The " bounty five," as the capture money was styled, was 
not stopped till June 5th, 1832, when the head-hunters were 
informed by the Governor that the reward was no longer 
offered, because the "present tranquil state of the Colony 
had rendered it unnecessary." 

When caught, the Natives were not easily held. A good 
smearing of opossum grease on their naked skins prevented a 
secure grasp. Thus, four were one day surrounded, and held 
for a time, at St. Paul's Plains ; but three managed to wriggle 
themselves free. The ever-watchful Courier hastened to 
publish an infallible cure. " Some persons," quoth the 
Paper, ** adopt the plan of getting behind them, and thrusting 
the arms beneath the armpits of the Black, to bring the 


by Google 


hands round behind the neck or head, and, being thus clapped, 
completely secure and overpower him." 

Some independent parties were highly successful. Mr. 
Howell, of the Shannon, obtained a thousand acres for his 
exploitsr Mr. James Parish, an Australian by birth, and a 
pilot, was said to have been the means of securing no less 
than twenty-two Aborigines, and a host of dogs, close to Swan 
Island, on which he managed to place them. Another person 
caught a Native, called Tommy Notoes, from having lost 
these useful members. One man escaped after being first 
secured, but was wounded by a shot in his retreat. He 
managed, however, to gain the shore, and attempted to swim 
away ; but, soon exhausted, he was retaken, and his wound 
was dressed. Placed in a hut for security, he again escaped, 
and was not recovered. Two were caught by a shrewd fellow 
who exposed a sugar-bag in the Bush, and then hid himself 
till his victims were in the sweets. 

The Natives were terribly harassed by these roving parties. 
Their sufferings were severe, especially from their fear to light 
a fire to warm their bodies, or to cook their food. Children 
and weak persons rapidly sunk from fatigue and want, or were 
hurried by violence to a grave that would shield them from 
their implacable foes. Opposing craft to force, the men of 
the woods concealed themselves in chosen retreats, kept up a 
vigilant look-out, and knew how, at fitting times, to silence 
their faithful and obedient dogs. # They were accustomed to 
indicate their way through the pathless wilderness by the 
Indian mode of breaking branches, or of pointing sticks in 
the ground, so that their fellows might track them to the 
camp. But, pursued by the Whites, these sticks, as previously 
agreed upon, were placed right in some places, and wrong in 
others. Sharp points and sharp stones were left just above 
ground to wound the feet of those following them ; as many 
of these wore home-made moccasins, a severe laming would 
attend a misfooting. 

*The guides of the parties were either white Bushmen, or 
Natives. The latter were not to be depended upon ; and 
some acknowledged, when on Flinders Island, having brought 
the leaders near the sought-for tribe, and then refused to go 
further, or led off in another direction. Black Jack, who was 
out with Mr. Gilbert Robertson, told Mr. Jorgenson, that after 



by Google 


)ie had been beaten by that gentleman, for some supposed 
fault, he was often upon the track of his countrymen, but 
would not trace. 

Mungo was an intelligent lad, and did good service. He 
was the son of an influential chieftain, and accompanied both 
Mr. Robertson and Mr. Batman, but early died of disease. 

As the wild people were caught, they were transferred to 
the nearest gaol. Some were at first taken to Mr. G. A. 
Robinson at Bruni; or, under his care, to the establishment 
at Newtown, a couple of miles out of Hobart Town. Mr. 
Stirling was in charge of the latter asylum, during the- 
journey of his chief to Port Davey. Such an establishment 
was soon found of little use, as numbers came in, and 
aiumbers went out again. 

In spite of the success of some of the roving parties in 
capture, for 236 were secured by the end of 1832, it was felt 
that great destruction of life had taken place. Mr. Carr, 
manager then for the Van Diemen's Land Agricultural 
Company, calculated upon the effects of the " Five Pounds' 
Proclamation," as it was called, and said, ** The Proclamation 
as usual will enjoin the sparing the defenceless, and that the 
people are not to be killed, but taken alive ; and the way in 
which it will be acted upon will be by hilling nine for one 
iahsn." Some such feeling was evidently shared by the 
authorities ; for a Government Notice, appearing on August 
20th, 1830, bears upon theisubject, and again utters a warning 
against cruelty. 

**The LieutenanlrGovemor," says the command, "has 
learned, with much regret, that the Government Order of the 
25th of February last, ofiFering certain rewards for the capture 
of the Aborigines, appears in some recent instances to have 
been misapprehended ; and, in order to remove the possibility 
of any future misunderstanding on this important subject. 
His Excellency has directed it to be distinctly notified, that 
nothing can be more opposed to the spirit of the above-named 
Order, and to all that of the different Proclamations and 
Orders which preceded it, than to offer any sort of violence 
or restraint to such of the aboriginal Natives as may approach 
the European inhabitants with friendly views : — the reward 
was offered for the capture of such Natives only as were 
committing aggressions on the inhabitants of the Settled 


by Google 

JOHN batman's work. 115 

Districts, from whicli it was the object of the Government to 
expel them with every degree of humanity that was practic- 
able, when all efforts for their conciliation had proved 

Among the Leaders of Parties the name of John Batman 
3tands out in bold relief. 

Though only one of the ordinary Leaders of Parties after 
.the Aborigines, yet, as the most prominent of these, the most 
.esteemed by the Governor, and the most approved of by the 
Blacks, a separate notice might be given of his part in the 
war. There is an additional reason for bringing him thus to 
the front, because of the great work he was afterwards the 
means of accomplishing, in 1835 — the colonization of Port 
Phillip — and thus becoming the Founder of the prosperous 
Colony of Victoria, 

John Batman was an Australian, being bom at Parramatta, 
in New South Wales, and subsequently becoming a farmer 
under the shadow of Ben Lomond, in Tasmania. For par- 
ticulars of his career, the reader is referred to the Author's 
works on * The Discovery and Settlement of Port PhiUip,* 
* John Batman, the Founder of Victoria,' and * Port Phillip 

Of powerful frame, goodly stature, great activity, untiring 
energy, quick intelligence, and superior Bush7craft, he was 
fitted for leadership in the Black War. But, of agreeable 
manners, exuberant spirits, and genuine kindliness, he became 
the admired of men, and the favourite of women. Governor 
Arthur acknowledged the public efforts of Mr. Batman, and 
was pleased with his society, while the convict servants of 
his household, and the roving tribes of the island, alike felt 
the benevolence of his heart, and bowed before the force of 
his character. 

That the writer be not supposed too partial toward him, 
other evidence will be produced. The Quaker Missionary, 
Mr. George Washington Walker, often spoke to me of his 
interest in the man, and acknowledged the correctness of the 
Eev. John West, the historian of Tasmania, when he stated, 
" To Mr. Batman belongs the praise of mingling humanity 
with severity, of perceiving human affections he was com- 
missioned to resist. He certsiinly began in the midst of con- 
flict and bloodshed to try the softer influence of conciliation 

I 2 


by Google 


and charity, — being one of the few who entertained a 
strong confidence in the power of kindness." Mr. Melville, 
another colonial historian, asserts that he " proceeded not 
with the sword, but with the olive branch/' Honest old 
Captain Eobson, who was with him in an early trip to Port 
Phillip, gave me this testimony of his friend : " He was a 
brave, athletic, daring, resolute man, fearing nothing — neither 
wind nor weather. His perseverance was beyond anything 
I ever saw." The Hon. J. H. Wedge adds a strong recom- 
mendation of his ancient companion. Wm. Robertson, Esq., 
J.P., who knew him intimately, has this observation : " His 
character for veracity and probity cannot, with regard to the 
truth, be in the slightest degree impugned." Mr. Hamilton 
Hume, the veteran explorer, who walked overland from 
Sydney to the site of Geelong in 1824, was bom in the 
same colonial village as Mr. Batman, and was enthusiastic 
in writing to me of his good personal qualities, and his 

Mr. Batman was called from his home, and a fine family 
of daughters, to take the field after the marauding IS^atives. 
He had previously been, from love of adventure not less 
than the patriotic impulse of a citizen, a chaser of flying 
Bushrangers, and the means of the capture of notable ruffians. 
Delighting in danger, and courting conflict, he was among 
the foremost to proffer his services to the Government in that 
perilous time. In his official letter, dated from his estate, 
Kingston, Ben Lomond, June 15th, 1829, he writes : " I 
have formed the determination, provided it meets with His 
Excellency's approbation, under certain conditions, of devot- 
ing some time, and aU the exertion of which I am capable, 
toward bringing in alive some of that much-injured and 
unfortunate race of beings." 

This gives the key to his conduct. He regarded the 
Natives as injured — ^"much injured" — and his sympathies 
were called forth on behalf of the unfortunate people. They 
were being shot down by soldiers, constables, and settlers. 
They were hunted down as implacable and hungry beasts. 
They were unpitied and undefended. He was resolved to 
stand in the breach. Without assuming so much as Mr. G. 
A. Robinson, he was actuated by a similar spirit. Not mak- 
ing the Christian profession that the latter did. Batman's real 


by Google 


desire to save the Blacks from destruction was as pure as his. 
The difference, and a striking difference, between them was 
this — that while one took no weapons, the other did ; though 
that was from the old feeling of insecurity, former habits of 
bandit-hunting, and the resolution to fight rather than run, 
when he failed to conciliate. Mr. Kobinson fled from his 
Native pursuers ; but Mr. Batman would stand and face those 
to the death who rejected his proposed kindness, and sought 
his own destruction. 

The Launceston Advertiser of August 24th greeted his 
appointment with satisfaction, saying, ** We learn from good 
authority that Mr. John Batman is to be employed for some 
time as Conductor of a party of ten Crown Prisoners, part 
of whom are to receive emancipation, and part tickets of 
leave, if they behave well. Their task is to capture all the 
Aborigines, or as many as they possibly can.'* 

At once he went to work ; for we have his letter, dated 
Sept. 18th, giving a record of progress : '* Seeing a number 
of Natives approaching toward us, I ordered the men to lie 
down, and not to fire upon them, but, when I should whistle, 
to rush forward and seize them. When they approached 
within forty yards, I gave the signal We all ran forward, 
and secured three women, two young children, three boys, 
and two young men." This was brave news for the settlers, 
as these captured ones belonged to a troublesome tribe. The 
capture took place between Break-o'-Day Plains and Oyster 
Bay, near the east coast. Seventeen large dogs were obtained, 
and a considerable quantity of stolen goods — blankets, knives, 
clothing, &c. — fell into hand. 

Unfortunately, that same month in the following year was 
signalized by a sad affair, a solitary instance of real warfare 
between Mr. Batman and the Natives. He had been pene- 
trating the intricate forest glens of Ben Lomond, when he 
suddenly found himself confronted by a well-armed mob of 
seventy, belonging to the most sanguinary tribes of the island. 
A flight of spears saluted him ; and so determined an assault 
followed, that he was constrained to order a discharge of 
musketry. Although fifteen of the assailants paid the penalty 
of their attack, yet such was the valour of the Native warriors 
that only one woman and one child were made prisoners by 
the Europeans. The dogs, which had nobly stood beside 


by Google 


their dark masters, shared in their fate, for twenty were 
shot Among the spoil of the camp were thirty or forty 
Spears, fifteen feet in length. 

That there was some justification for the colonial terror, 
and some need for armed parties to restrain attack, where 
unable to make peaceable terms, a letter of Mr. Batman's 
may afford evidence. It was written oflficially from Ben 
Lomond, and says: "I have just time to say* that the 
Natives last Thursday week murdered two men at Oyster 
Bay, and the next day they beat a sawyer about to death. 
On Sunday after they murdered a soldier. On last Wednes- 
day they attacked the house of Mr. Boultby, when he was 
absent ; and if it had not been for a soldier who happened 
to be there, they would have murdered Mrs. Boultby and all 
the. children. On Friday last they murdered three men at d 
hut belonging to Major Gray, and left a fourth for dead;'* 

Mr. Batman was the first to employ native women as spies 
and guides. Mr. Kobinson afterwards followed out the same 
^lan with signal advantage. These brought intelligence of 
the wanderers, and, from sympathy with the benevolent 
views of these two leaders, induced their country people td 
accept of the proffered protection. They were made to 
understand the intentions of th^ Governor to remove thenl 
from the bad and cruel Whites to good hunting-groundsj 
which their enemies could never approach. 

Three of Mr. Batman's native females succeeded on one 
occasion in prevailing upon nine men to come to Kingston. 
It so happened that the gentleman was from home, and Mrs. 
Batman and her daughters were much terrified at the visit: 
She sent over for her neighbour, Mr. Simeon Lord, who 
afterwards gave me a graphic account of this irruption of 
barbarians. He found the ne\^-comers about as wild a col- 
lection as the country could furnish. They were all armed, 
and were prying most curiously, but good-humouredly, about 
the premises. Some were enjoying the mysteries of the 
mirror, and laughing at each other's transferred features. 
One had a girl's cap on his greasy pate, and another mounted 
a larger article of feminine wardrobe. They stalked about in 
IS'ative costume of perfect undress, and made free with what 
pleased them, but carefully abstained from liberties with the 
household. As hungry as hunters, they made such havoc as 


by Google 


to lead Mr. Batman afterwards to write : " Their appetite is 
enormous, devouring everything they meet. They are par- 
ticulariy fond of half-roasted eggs of every description, geese, 
ducks, and hens ; it is all one — so much so, that Mrs. Bat- 
man's poultry-yard will cut but a sorry figure after the 

The master arrived home at sundown, to the great relief of 
the family. He gave the party a hearty welcome, but took 
no measures to force them into confinement. The consequence 
was, that the gentry departed in the night, though returning 
on a subsequent day. Six having been on another occasion 
taken to Launceston, the Commandant, not knowing what to 
do with them, would have let them free, had not Mr. Batman 
convinced him that the poor creatures would be shot if 

Mr. Batman, as an old ranger in the forests of New South 
Wales, had experience of the tine tracking powers of the 'New 
Holland Aborigines, and wished to have such auxiliaries 
with him in his present work. Addressing the Governor 
upon the subject, on March 18th, 1830, he distinguished the 
kind he required : ** They should be got from the interior, as 
those about the town of Sydney are accustomed to the drink- 
ing of spirits, and have in a great measure lost their natural 
gift of tracking." 

Colonel Arthur approved of the suggestion. Accordingly, 
Pigeon and Crook were procured, and continued for several 
years attached to Mr. Batman's person, and companions in 
his wonderful adventures. Years after, they and one of his 
old English servants went across with him to the establish- 
ment of a settlement at Port Phillip, where they discovered 
Buckley, the Wild White man, who had been living with 
the Port Phillip Blacks for thirty-two years. Such was the 
estimation in which the efforts of these so-called Sydney 
Natives were held, that, in 1831, others were sent for by the 
authorities, " to be employed," said the Courier of September, 
**as instruments, under the direction of properly-qualified 
persons, to conciliate and civilize the Natives of our own 

Pigeon and Crook were despatched for the new men, who 
stipulated ior a dollar a day, a suit of clothes, and a medal. 
The names of the guides were John Pigeon, John Crook, 


by Google 


John Waterman, William Sawyers, John Peter, and John 
Radley. Their native appellations were respectively War- 
roba, Jonninbia, Monowara, Nombardo, Bollo'bolong, and 

Their conduct, real or alleged, provoked much discussion 
at the time. It was said they would be bloodthirsty 
destroyers of the poor Tasmanians, and that, instead of 
ameliorating their social condition, they would introduce 
fresh vices, and incite them to worse hostilities. The dread- 
ful deeds of Mosquito, the Sydney monster, were paraded to 
the injury of the reputation of the imported guides. Perhaps 
no one more violently objected to their continued engagement 
than Mr. G. A. Kobinson. Some asserted that his opposition 
was from spleen at their success ; but he afl&rmed that they 
were untrustworthy servants, that they corrupted the Native 
women, and that they were drunken reprobates. 

After skirmishing for a long time, the two leaders came to 
open rupture about the strangers. Mr. Robinson having 
officially complained of them, and reminded the Governor 
that they were from Mosquito's own part of the country, Mr. 
Batman combated for them. He gave instances of their good 
deeds, and related cases in which they had stood by him in 
great straits, and had one time helped him successfully to 
capture, without bloodshed, a mob of thirteen Aborigines. 

Mr. Batman, though directed to co-operate with Major 
Gray, was ordered to consult the magistrate at Campbell 
Town, James Simpson, Esq. ; to whom I have been person- 
ally much indebted for information about the early times of 
both Tasmania and Victoria, and who was a warm friend to 
poor John Batman. These two gentlemen were favourable 
in their reports, as may be seen from the following Govern- 
ment Notice of Sept. 9, 1830 : "Mr. John Batman, having 
served the period of twelve months in pursuit of the Abo- 
rigines, the Lieutenant-Governor, placing every confidence 
in the certificates of James Simpson and William Gray, 
Esquires, J. P., as to the zeal which he has manifested, has 
directed a grant of two thousand acres of land to be made to 

Conditional pardons or tickets- of -leave were given to the 
prisoner men who had served under Mr. Batman's orders 
during that period. 


by Google 

governor's opinion op batman. 121 

Mr. Batman was not indiflferent to the reward of his 
Sydney guides. Ten pounds were presented to each. But 
at the end of the first year, he recommended that Pigeon and 
Crook should be made Bush constables, and put on the police 
staff. He suggested, also, that the same favour should be 
granted to Black Bill, a Tasmanian guide. He also procured 
better rations for them. 

Anxious for home and rest, he retired awhile in October 
1830, transferring his Sydney Blacks to his friend Mr. 
Cottrell. The Governor, in his despatch of November 20th, 
is pleased to refer to his labours thus : " Mr. Batman treated 
the savages with the utmost kindness, distributing to them 
clothing and food. They were placed under no restraint, but 
all the indulgence that had been pledged was manifested 
toward them. Mr, Batman, who has taken the most lively 
interest in conciliating these wretched people, and has been 
one of the few who supposed that they might be influenced 
by kindness, was, with his family, most assiduous in culti- 
vating the best understanding." 

But he never lost his interest in the work. His year of 
success was that in which Mr. Kobinson had been able to 
accomplish little. After this, the operations were left in the 
hands of the latter, though the Ben Lomond farmer actively 
laboured for the good of the unhappy race. He objected to 
the system of clearing the island of all of them without ex- 
ception, and pleaded hard for the retention of youth educated 
by settlers, and devoted to their service. This brought him 
into collision with Mr. Eobinson, who was ever jealous of his 
intimacy with Colonel Arthur and the higher officials, and 
who formally complained of his keeping two Native lads on 
his farm near Ben Lomond. 

A passage-at-arms occurred. Mr. Robinson was backed by 
the Aborigines' Committee of Hobart Town, while his rival 
had the ear of officialdom. Mr. Batman declared that he 
was not obstructive, but that he acted as the guardian of the 
boys, because their mothers, on being forwarded to Flinders 
Island, refused to take the lads from the kind care of the 
Blacks' friend. The Committee wrote to Ben Lomond, urging 
the removal of the two boys, stating that Mr. Robinson had 
mentioned the clamour among the exiles at their absence. 
Lieutenant Darling, the beloved Commandant at Flinders, 


by Google 


espoused the side of Batman, and addressed a letter to him, 
March 25th, 1834; declaring that the mother of Jackey had 
told him, in answer to his question : *' No — no — no ! let him 
stay at Mr. Batman's, till he gets a long fellow." Mr. 
Darling continues : "I have seen Jackey (then ten years 
old), driving the plough at your farm, and have expressed to 
you my admiration of his shrewdness and intelligence, and 
my hope that under the care and kindness with which hoth 
he and little Benny are evidently treated by your family, 
they would one day become useful members of society." He - 
wished that all the children at Flinders were similarly 
placed. Ultimately Mr. Eobinson gained his end, and the 
partly civilized were placed with the wild ones, 

I have in my possession, through the favour of Mr. Weire, 
Town Clerk of Geelong, who married Mr. Batman's daugbtei? 
Eliza, the little memorandum book in which the leader of 
the roving party kept his Journal, from March 3rd to Sep- 
tember 29th, 1830. Outside, it is directed from his farm^ 
Kingston. / 

A slight Analysis of this Journal will illustrate the labours 
of the man. The scene is laid about Ben Lomoiid. 

This grand pile of rocks lies toward the north-eastern 
comer of Tasmania, and is the source of the North Esk and 
South Esk, whose waters unite at Launeeston. The district * 
is one of gteat interest to the geologist. It is above forty 
years since I had the ple^lsure of travelling through it on my 
way to the East Coast. Leaving the neighbouring farm to 
that where Mr. Batman lived in the olden times, I traversed 
the carboniferous and Silurian county of Fingal, crossing v 
several creeks that had cut through the bituminous coal^ ^ 
and glancing at the quartz veins of the palaeozoic rocks from ^. 
which the gold is now being extracted. The granite succeeds, 
and carries one on to the shore. Overflowing these various 
formations, and presenting most fantastic appearances when 
prismatic, there is the greenstone. This ancient igneous 
rock constitutes the huge bulk of Ben Lomond, which I 
found to be a table nearly eight miles in extent, with an 
elevation of five thousand ieet The whole neighbourhood 
of Ben Lomond was a vast forest, varied by scrub and huge 
bouldera. Lofty isolated hills of carboniferous order, as 
Mount Nicholas, are to be observed, with remarkable caps 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


of greenstone, telling the old story of denudation. It was 
amidst such a region that our leader and his party spent the 
winter and spring, watching for the Aborigines. 

A little story of the author's Bush experience may afford 
the reader further insight into the nature of the place and the 
characters one might have met in the period. The time of my 
visit was some seven years only after the departure of Mr. 
Batman for residence in Port Phillip. 

I started from near Kingston, under the guidance of a 
convict shepherd, who carried the swag, and led the way. 
He entertained me with narratives of bushranging and native 
hunting, to lighten my toilsome march. After travelling for 
about ten hours over very rough ground, the sun was setting 
before the welcome sound of a dog broke the silence of the 
mountain solitude, and guided us to the lonely hut of old 
Boco, the one-eyed tenant of Ben Lomond. He was lord of 
the wastes, the supposed shepherd of a flock feeding on the 
sparse vegetation of the rocky slopes. 

He received me heartily, and proclaimed his ample store of 
Inutton^ damper, and tea, for my entertainment, objecting to 
the opening of the haversack which my companion carried. 
The hut was of slabs of unhewn timber, rudely plastered 
with clay. The floor was of mother earth. The huge fire- 
place opened into the hut; and, being unprovided with a 
chimney, furnished the inmates with a sight of the stars, or 
a sensation of raiuj according to the weather. The hilly was 
swung, the tea was made, the chops were fried, the damper 
i^as brought, and the weary wanderers were soon at ease. 

But tbiB company — it is time they were introduced. Old 
Boco, who had passed through some singular passages of 
history, and whose hut was, perhaps slanderously, supposed 
the receptacle oi curiosities, surreptitiously conveyed there 
from the regions below^ was of most forbidding aspect, torn 
fend rent by years and usage, like the mountain of which he 
seemed the genius. He was not alone. A number of friends 
had dropped in. Two shepherds were seeking lost animals. 
Three men were out kangarooing. Three were servants sent 
to cut posts and rails for fencing. Two were constables on 
the tramp. All were of the convict class. Even these were 
not unattended. Every man seemed to have a dog ; and the 
noise these creatures made through the night would have 


by Google 


disturbed the rest of any but Bushmen. A new-comer, when 
informed of the character of his associates, might have felt 

The supper over, the chat commenced vigorously. An un- 
necessary apology was made to the gentleman for the absence 
of grog. It had been all drunk, and Boco had nothing but 
. good Ben Lomond ale (water) to offer. A very dirty pack of 
cards gave amusement to one party, some indulged in a song, 
while others smoked before the blazing logs. Being all early 
risers, there were speedy arrangements for bed. My guide 
had an opossum fug for me, which he disposed on one of the 
three side bunks of rough slabs. As soon as I had settled 
myself, a peculiarly odorous splitter enveloped himself in a 
filthy blanket, retaining his boots, and occupied the spare 
place beside me. The rest folded their rugs or blankets 
around them, and coiled about on the mud and moistened 

Some were not ready for sleep, and called upon a scholarly 
mate to give them some literature. He produced a disre- 
putable looking book, and brought the light near him, as he 
lay upon the floor. The candlestick was a disabled tin 
pannikin. The tallow was the fat of the chops poured off 
from the hissing pan. The wick was a piece of Old Boco's 
well-worn shirt, and gave a flickering and smoky flame. In 
a monotonous manner, Jack read a very characteristic work, 
considering the country and company — "The Wonderful 
Escapes of Jack Sheppard I " 

Some such associations, with the addition of native society, 
probably surrounded the rude hut erected for the Ben Lomond 
sojourn of Mr. Batman. 

To return to the Journal. The entries are very brief, often 
roughly and incorrectly written, but evidently made honestly 
on the days in question. The only thing noticed outside of 
his work was the eclipse of the moon on March 9th, when 
*' not one bit of her was to be seen." The Governor took 
much notice of his proceedings, and Mr. Batman rode occa- 
sionally to Launceston or Hobart Town to confer with His 
Excellency. We read : " Had a long talk with His Excel- 
lency ; " " Had a long conversation respecting my expedition 
against the Aborigines." Having some trouble to get a 
couple of women out from gaol at Launceston, he had to see 


by Google 


the Governor before securing their liberty. Colonel Arthur 
promised Pigeon " a great deal, if he could succeed in bringing 
in a tribe on friendly terms," 

Mr. Batman, after several long and painful journeys, with 
fruitless return, was obliged to have a substantial hut made 
as a dep6t for provisions, as well as a home for the party. 
From this centre he despatched his people on search, though 
often enough there is the entry, "No sight of the ISatives." 
He would send the men by themselves, or with the native 
women. Thus we have, " The women left this morning with 
Gunner, Pigeon, Crook, and Black Bill, to scour the country." 
For reasons not explained, the women " expressed a wish to 
go away by themselves." They promised to bring in the 
tribe if permitted to travel alone, and the leader started them 
from the east end of Ben Lomond. He gave them complete 
supplies, besides ** three dogs, knives, pipes, &c., to carry with 
them." Three men took the burden some considerable dis- 
tance for them. His faith was strong in their intentions, for 
we have him writing: "I have every hope of the women 
bringing in their tribe." His confidence was not misplaced. 
When he sent either his European or Sydney men with them, 
he would not permit them to take fire-arms. Mr. Eobinson 
was not alone in his belief in moral suasion. 

Occasionally he was directed to go in pursuit of some 
mischievous gang. He came too late to catch the murderers 
of three men at Major Gray's. Hearing of a mob attacking 
Mr. Hooper's place, he rode hastily off. His day's record 
says : " The house surrounded by Natives. 1 galloped down, 
and the whole of them fled. The first thing we saw was the 
dead body of Mr. Hooper, and a great number of goods lying 
outside the house." 

He was quite ready to acknowledge something to the credit 
of the foes of the settlers. Ordered off to another reported 
scene of outrage, where it was said that Mr. Newland's man 
had been killed, he arrived, " and found the whole of it to 
be false. The man (who originated the story) was a cripple, 
or I should have taken him before a magistrate." Another 
notice evidences his good feeling : " They went also into a 
house where a woman was, took one blanket, and did not 
liurt her. This shows they do not commit murders when 
they might." After another ride, upon a report, he returned. 


by Google 


as he wrote, " without seeing the least trace of the Natives, 
and think the whole of the reports to be false." 

Amon<? the walking feats, we have i;ioticed fifteen, twenty, 
and twenty-five miles a day. The wet and cold sorely tried 
the party ; but the snow, three or four feet thick for a week 
at a time, shut them up in their secluded mountain hut, or 
detained them on the lower plains. 

There was under the rough exterior of this powerful Bush- 
man no small share of the tenderness belonging more to the 
other sex. Several entries in his Journal prove this. He 
yraa very fond of children, and very gentle to women. His 
notice of April 6th is: "The women here all day. This 
evening, the young child, belonging to one of the women, 
that sucked at the breast, died. I put it in a box, and 
buried it at the top of the garden. She seemed much 
affected at the loss of the child, and cried much." The 
next day's entry commences, **This morning I found the 
woman, that lost her child, over the grave, and crying 

As John Batman had no fluency in writing, and confined 
himself to the fewest possible sentences in his official reports, 
as well as the most barren statements in his journal, it is 
pleasing to notice this evidence of his natural good feeling. 
Even while out on this service, his care for the black women 
was conspicuous. Such entries as the following are worthy 
of record : " The black women could not walk well." " Caught 
a kangaroo for the women." ** The women much tired : made 
them some tea, and gave them bread and mutton.'* " The 
black women arrived here about twelve o'clock : made them 
tea, gave them bread, &c." He was evidently very uneasy 
about the long absence of the women on two occasions. For 
a whole fortnight we have the entry of " No signs of the 
women." When he heard that in their search after their 
countrymen they had been snowed up, he was much con- 
cerned about sending them relief. Then, upon their return, 
he would not for several days permit them to leave the hut, 
because of the snow. 

Mr. Gilbert Robertson, one time chief constable at Rich- 
mond, a man of powerful frame, possessed qualities admirably 
fitting him for a leader. Thoroughly educated, of independent 


by Google 


character, with a relish for public life, he occupied a prominent 
position in political affairs at a time when it was indiscreet to 
speak, and dangerous to write. He had the boldness to expose 
evils, and the temerity to confront authority. He was pre- 
pared to vindicate his views in the presence of His Excellency, 
as well as expound them through the press before <;itizens. 
A little time-serving would have saved him much loss, if it 
had not led to better fortune. Co-operating with Messrs. 
Oregson and Melville, he earnestly contended for the emanci- 
pation of colonists, and the end of irresponsible government, 
content to suffer with others the odium of their opposition, 
and the penalty of obnoxious laws. 

It is fitting that the men who now enjoy such extension of 
franchise in Australia should cast a grateful glance on the 
memory of those who bled in their purse, and ached in their 
imprisoned bodies, that British settlers might possess British 
rights.. It is not so long ago that one of the worthy fathers 
of the colonial press, and one of the fathers of colonial free- 
dom, wandered through London a too-forgotten and neglected 
man. In the feebleness of advanced age, with the pressure 
of impecunious circumstances, he could stand forth as a man 
who, with all the strength of conscious intellect, and the 
resolution of an uuquailing will, could endure the confiscation 
of fortune, and the indignity of a gaol, while battling against 
the- despotic regime of the past, and helping to usher in a 
brighter and a better day. Such a man was Henry Melville, 
once proprietor of the Hobart Town * Colonial Times,' and 
the author of 'Australasia,' 'Veritas/ &c. 

Mr. Robertson had not been unsuccessful, if eveji the 
capture of the bold chief Eumarra had been his sole perform- 
ance. This man and four others were taken in October 1829. 
Eumarra became the friend and helpmate of Mr. Robertson. 
Upon his retirement from service in 1830, the leader secured 
a thousand acres of land. 

Mr. Anthony Cottrell was a valuable leader. In December 
1831, he laid hold of two men and a woman, and made such 
good use of them as to gain their assistance to secure the rest 
of their tribe toward the north-east. In the following 
November he made an excellent haul. His advocacy of the 
principles of the Conciliatory Mission may be gathered from 
his official report, in which he was proud to say : " There was 


by Google 


not the least force xised toward the people that joined ns on 
this occasion, and they were allowed to retain their spears, 
&c, and to do as they pleased." 

He suhsequently went to the west coast, and followed after 
the Arthur Kiver tribe that had speared a Sydney Native, 
and had forced Mr. G. A. Robinson to run for his life. Two 
of his men were unhappily drowned near the mouth of 
Pieman's River. On January 10th, 1833, he fell in with 
the tribe of twenty-six, some thirty miles from the Macquarie 
Harbour Heads, and would have met with a favourable 
response to his appeals, but for the vindictive jealousy of 
Edick. They had agreed to submit, and stayed one night 
and part of a day with him ; but afterwards, when passing 
through a dense scrub, Edick persuaded the party to leave 
their white friends. Mr. Cottrell could not detain them, as 
he was unprovided with trinkets and provisions to induce 
them to remain. 

However, he gallantly pressed forward in pursuit, and saw 
them, at length, on the opposite shore, at the mouth of the 
Arthur River. Rapidly constructing a raft, with the assist- 
ance of Mr. Robinson's son, then with him, he attempted to 
cross; but the frail vessel struck against a bar, and was 
wrecked, Nothing daunted, Stewart, one of his men, manu- 
factured a rude canoe. In the mean time, Mr. Cottrell saw 
some on the other bank ready to join if they could get over. 
As the exploit would be one demanding not merely courage, 
but good swimming qualities, a Sydney Black of the party 
undertook the work. One by one did he succeed in securing 
the voluntary prisoners. There were five men, two women, 
and a child. The last time of crossing, Edick observed the 
treason, and rushed down to the shore with his spearmen. 
The Sydney man lightened the bark, by leaping into the 
water, leaving his last rescued one to paddle more swiftly 
and safely to the other bank. Rapidly came the storm of 
spears ; but, instead of blindly swimming onward, the wary 
New Hollander watched the progress of a spear, dived, and 
swam under the surface, rose for a breath, and dived again 
before the next missile could reach the spot of his last appear- 
ance. The brave fellow gained the shelter of his friends, 
but was thoroughly exhausted with his effort Mr. Cottrell 
took the eight who came to him on the 5th of February, and 


by Google 


placed them for temporary safety on Grummett's Island, 
Macquarie Harbour. 

Mr. M'Geary was an unlettered man, but one of ^at 
experience in Bush-craft and acquaintance with the Natives, 
whose language he spoke with much fluency. He was associ- 
ated with Mr. Robinson, and once, when that gentleman was 
absent, he fell in with a tribe near Cape Portland. There he 
brought his tact to bear so well, and so convinced the Abori- 
gines of their peril in falling in the hands of the remorseless 
Red-coats, that they a^^reed to go with him. Accompanied 
by their forty-two dogs, they followed him to Swan Island 

Mr. M*Kay was, also, a very useful man in this important 
sphere of action. In 1830, assisted by M'Geary, he was able 
to capture thirteen at one time, and twelve at another. He 
was successful in catching four of the renowned Big River 
tribe. It was M'Kay who, when on one occasion attached to 
Mr. Robinson's Conciliatory Mission, was severely treated by 
some rough Blacks, that thought to complete their work by 
dashing his brains out with waddies. But the Bushman had 
secreted, against orders, certain weapons, of so unmistakable 
a power, that four of his antagonists were dropped, and the 
rest departed in haste. 

Mr. Surridge, when coxswain of a boat at Waterhouse 
Point, to the north-east, made a fortunate capture of several 
Natives ; and, with the help of some sailors, obtained others. 
In October 1830, he placed three males and two females on 
Gun Carriage Island. In November, with the aid of Native 
women, he obtained eight men and two women near the 
Forster^s river to the north-east. 

Mr. Jorgen Jorgenson must next be presented. This extra- 
ordinary man was an adventurer of no ordinary kind. Many 
years ago, he wrote his life for one of the Hobart Town 
Almanacks. A native of Denmark, and a sailor, he came 
over to England in early manhood. He was with the expe- 
dition that settled Hobart Town in 1804. After various 
vicissitudes, he came under the cognizance of the British 
Police Authorities. Delivering himself from their grasp, he 
reappeared on another scene. With a few adventurers, he 
landed upon the out-of-the-world isle of Iceland, made glowing 
speeches upon grievances of which the people had no previous 



by Google 


knowledge, proclaiined himself their delirerer from the 
thraldom of Denmark^ and aetnally succeeded in placing 
himself at the head of the Goyemment of that island of 
volcanic heat and glacial cold. The mitimelj arrival of a 
small Teasel ^m Denmark suggested unpleasant remarks, 
and led to his speedy exit from the throne. He again visited 
London, again feU into old habits, again was recognized as an 
old otfender, and, with complaints from Denmark, secored a 
free, passage to Yan Diemen's Land. 

Yet, though simply a convict, his fertility of resources, 
energy of character, and absence of bashfulness, brought him 
into notice. A good penman, a diligent worker, a compliant 
servant, he attracted the attention of Mr. Anstey, and secured 
his favour. When, therefore, the Roving Parties were ap- 
pointed, the Dane made himself so .useful as a handy man of 
all work to the police magistrate, that he was eventually 
promoted to the command of a party himself. He proudly 
styles himself the only prisoner of the Crown entrusted with 
such a commission. He was allowed an extra shilling a day 
when out. In his acknowledgment to Mr. Anstey, August 
11, 1829, he modestly says, '*! hope you will do me the 
justice to believe that, had I any other means to supply my 
wants than by the bounty of Government, I would most 
cheerfully do so." 

He set out with a determination to make himself famous, 
to feed his love of applause, to satisfy his ambition. He 
pleased Mr. Anstey, and therefore the Government, no less 
by the r^ularity and voluminous nature of his reports, than 
by his dashing activity. A clever, shrewd, but calculating 
old man, he secured the approval of a few, but earned the 
indifference or dislike of many. Mr. Eobinson in vain en- 
deavoured to dislodge him £rom the confidence of Mr. Anstey. 
Others stormed and threatened. He still held on in triumph. 
But when useful no longer, he was suffered to sink into 
obscurity, whither his old habits of intemperance had been 
gradually leading him. An article in a paper would now and 
then sparkle with his old fire, and amuse by its eccentricity. 
After his return from his Native hunting, he prepared a 
record of Ids own experience in the Bush, detailing circum- 
stances connected with the " Black War." This manuscript 
he presented to Dr. Bndm, afterwards the learned and much 


by Google 


esteemed Archdeacon of Portland, in the colony of Victoria, 
and subsequently useful in a West of England Kectory,who 
very generously gave it to me, in order to assist me with 
some materials for my work on * The Last of the Tasmanians/ 

Mr. Jorgenson from the first took a correct view of the 
disorderly movements of the Roving Parties. These were 
driving the Natives hither and thither, without any settled 
and united plan of action. As he properly observed, when 
addressing his patron, Mr. Anstey, " We should never drive 
an enemy (unless we absolutely want to get rid of him) fromi 
the place where we know him to be, to places where we * 
cannot easily trace him, much less from such a district as 
Swanport into the interior, where the Natives, if attacked 
or defeated, might take the selection whether they would fly 
to the eastward or westward." He proposed the adoption of 
the Fabian system, **8low and cautious ;" knowing that the 
Government, in doing so, " must bear the taunts of disaffected 
squatters, and the gloomy ill-will of assigned servants." Both 
masters and men had been sufficiently tried by their troubles 
with the Aborigines, and wanted a prompt and certain cure 

In a well- written paper he unfolds the various causes of 
the want of success in the existing arrangements. He thus 
describes thenS : — 

"1st. Want of a plan of combined operations. 

" 2d. A total absence of discipline. 

" 3d. Inveterate laziness, which induces the parties to pro- 
ceed over the best ground they can find from one place to 
another; and the Natives, thus knowing their customary 
haunts, can easily avoid them. 

" 4th. That the men forming the parties have been pro- 
mised indulgence at the expiration of a certain time, without 
the additional condition that none would be granted unless 
the Natives were fallen in with, captured, or otherwise' 
disposed of. 

" 5th. The, imposition and deceit practised by prisoner 
leaders, wishing to stand well, and be called good fellows by 
their fellow-prisoners, and thus indulge th^ parties in idleness, 
and stifle all complaints. 

" 6th. (But which I advance with great caution.) Black 
Tom and the other Blacks accompanying the expedition not 

K 2 


by Google 


being willing to bring the parties to where the Natives would 
be likely to be. 

" 7th. The imposition practised, to screen idleness, to hold 
out that the Aborigines are men of superior cunning, and 
amazingly swift runners, whereas the facts show to the 

The enemies of Jorgenson, who admitted his facility of 
composition, and his ability to find fault with others, pointed 
triumphantly to the meagre results of such lofty talk and 
great promise of achievements. He could reprove others 
for their absurd methods, but failed in catching the Blacks 

The last native family known to be out, consisting of an 
old man and an old woman, three elder children, and a little 
boy, — the last of his race, — were captured near the Arthur 
River, on the north-west coast. A reward of 50Z. had been 
offered for their persons. The Native female companion of a 
lefiwier accomplished the feat by artfully representing to the 
affrighted creatures that she could conduct them to fine 
hunting-grounds, where no Whites could molest them. Once 
in the boat, and tossed on the western waters, they became 
helplessly sea-sick, and, in that condition, were taken to a 
British establishment at Woolnorth, near Cape Grim. 

The Hobart Town Aboriginal Committee, 'vflio had never 
wholly approved of the Roving Parties, and had believed the 
too frequent charges brought against them of shooting the 
Natives, took action in recommending their withdrawal from 
the field. On February 2nd, 1830, even, they wrote to the 
Grovemor that " they were unanimously of opinion that martial 
law should be suspended during the period of Mr. Robinson's 
Peaceful Mission ; and they are further of opinion that more 
missions of a similar nature could be employed with advan- 
tage, provided proper persons can be employed to take charge 
of the parties." They suggested the propriety of calling in 
the Roving Parties till the success of Mr. Robinson be known. 
Though that was not done, and the said parties continued to 
be usefully engaged some time longer, they all gradually 
withdrew as Robinson advanced, as the bright stars retire 
before the rising sun, and left the crowning work and 
crowning glory to that distinguished leader. 


by Google 




The hero of the hour was George Augustus Robinson. He 
■was of no high lineage. He was no worshipper of chivalry. 
He inherited no special enthusiasm. He had no direct 
training for a Mission. He was but a plain man, of very 
moderate education, with no elevating surroundings. He 
was a Hobart Town bricklayer. 

This was the man who undertook to bring peace to a sorely 
troubled colony. He believed in his power to do so. He 
was more than the thousands of soldiers and constables, 
stronger than the law, with greater influence than the 
Governor. His promises were derided, and his offers of 
service were neglected. Could any good come out. of 
Nazareth? When official vnsdom failed, and military 
prowess was vainly employed, could a simple bricklayer hope 
to succeed ? 

How came the man to be so confident 1 He felt he had 
the needful qualifications. What were these ? Sincere con- 
viction, hearty sympathy, active benevolence, sound common 
sense, healthy body, unquailing courage, and resolute will. 

True heroes are only developed by circumstances ; but 
they must be inspired by high purpose. In all climes they 
have perhaps ever been, whether successful or not, suppliants 
of heaven. From this highest source had George Robinson 
obtained his inspiration. He sought it in Divine contempla- 
tion, and found it. Pitying the dark islander, he laid the 
case of the sorrower before the Father, and thence came his 
strong convictions, and his surest hopes. 

He was not a mere sentimentalist. Over the tale of 
aboriginal wrongs he by no means shed the abundant tears 
flowing from some novel-reader over the distress of maiden 
all forlorn. His sighs were from no fanciful idea of sufiering. 
He groaned in spirit as he dwelt upon Bush horroi-s, but his 
brow was knit, and his hand was clenched. He was not 
satisfied with grieving over wrong, but his soul was moved 
to redress the evil done, to avert still threatened woe. With 
no morbid thought, his project was as sound as his reasoning 
was healthy. 

If not scholarly, he had his faculties about him, ready for 


by Google 


prompt and direct employment. His social sphere was 
limited, but it was sufficient for his purpose. He did not, 
like many a man, regret want of favourable circumstances, 
nor pant after unattainable conditions. All who seek useful- 
ness in life must be content with the openings before them. 
The will to do must be exercised upon the scene without, 
however poor the prospect, or barren the field. "No true man 
asks the removal of every stone of obstruction before his 
march. Great deeds follow deep feeling, and unselfish pre- 
parations for the conflict. 

His plan was well thought out, and matured, yet few to 
whom he unfolded it believed in its practicability. Good 
men and women wished it might succeed, yet shook their 
heads in doubt One far-seeing man, at least, accepted the 
bricklayer's views. A man of the world, a stem, military 
disciplinarian, a controller of the roughest elements of con- 
victism, a contender with armed bushrangers, one not easily 
swayed by smooth humanitarianism, was Lieutenant Gunn, 
the giant superintendent of the Hobart Town Penitentiary. 
This gentleman assured the writer that he always had faith 
in the man and his views. 

George Kobinson had to wait. The utter failure of all 
other projects could alone make way for him. He then went 
on his own humble but useful career. Any possible chance of 
blessing an unfortunate Black was eagerly embraced. In his 
leisure he visited the sick and fallen. The caged prisoners 
were objects of his Christian zeal. The sailors and whalers 
he met on the strand as Secretary for the first Bethel Mission 
of Hobart. An ardent Wesley an, he sought the conversion 
of sinners from the paths of sin. If tender, he was confident ; 
if gentle, he was resolute. In Sunday School or on highway, 
he taught, he pleaded, he prayed, and he preached. In the 
Eev. William Bedford, the Chaplain, he had a firm friend ; 
and it was through him mainly that the Governor was 
induced io try the plan of conciliation. 

There was nothing of the gloomy ascetic about him. His 
bold, bright eye, glowing cheeks, open countenance, broad 
forehead,, strong nasal organ, and full lips, displayed healthy 
vigour and straightforwardness. A firm, decided step marked 
his decision and self-reliance. One who knew him well told 
me that his whole bearing seemed to say *^ that he would 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

{From Mr. Duterebau's portrait.) 


by Google 


knock down St. Paul's to carry his object.'* Strongly framed, 
and of middle stature, he was lit to encounter Bush hardships. 
It was toward the end of 1841 that I became acquainted 
with the Hobart Town artist, Mr. Duterrau. My introducer 
was one of the noblest and most constant lovers of the Dark 
race — Hottentot, Kaffir, Australian, or Tasmanian. This was 
George Washington Walker, the companion missionary — 
visitor to the south with James Backhouse of York. Members 
of the Society of Friends, their sympathies were naturally 
drawn out towards Aborigines. " I will take thee," said the 
good man to me, " to one who pities the unhappy Natives, 
and honours their white friend." 

In the studio one day of 1841 I was introduced, for the 
first time, to the heroes and heroines of the celebrated Black 
War of Van Diemen^s Land. Mr. Duterrau had a portrait 
of the Nestor of Tasmanians, the thoughtful Manalagana, 
whose magnificent and powerful head reminded one of a 
Hercules or a Jove. There was Wooreddy, a chieftain of 
the day, with the physique of an athlete. Among the female 
forms, the most prominent was that of the lively little Tas- 
manian belle, Truganina or Lalla Eookh, long afterwards my 
greeting friend at Oyster Cove. 

The venerable artist directed my attention to the figure of 
an Englishman. "There," cried he; ** there is a real hero, 
though not one of your world's heroes." It was none other 
than George Robinson. 

Seated in that studio, I listened with rapt attention to the 
story of Tasmanian wrongs. The aged narrator shed tears 
over the fate of his black friends, and strongly excited my 
sympathetic impulses. " I can but set forth the story on 
canvas," he said ; " would that some one coTlld tell the sad 
tale in a book." 

The remembrance of that glowing face, angelic in its dis- 
play of brotherhood feeling, is fresh before me, though forty 
odd years have passed since his benevolent smile beamed 
upon me. Then and there it was that I resolved to gather 
all the information I could from actoi's in the dark scenes, 
that I might some day ** tell the sad tale in a book." 

The Conciliator, as George Eobinson was beautifully styled 
by the artist, was thus made known to me. 

His ideas about the Blaeks were gained by actual contact, 


by Google 


by practical knowledge. Quick to recognize where they had 
a friend, the poor creatures hung about his workshop and 
home. With them he shared his slender store. Wife and 
children took the like kind interest in them. It was little 
they could give but gentle words, genial smiles, and pious 
counsel. Passing the humble tenement, I used often to 
picture the scene of the worthy bricklayer surrounded by his 
chattering sable friends, before those terrible times of conflict 
burst forth, when bitter, unrelenting war scattered the tribes 
as autumn leaves in storm, and the pleasant reunions at- 
the bricklayer's house were never known again. 

It was in March, 1829, that he read the following in the 
Hobart Town Gazette : — 

" In furtherance of the Lieutenant-Governor's anxious 
desire to ameliorate the condition of the aboriginal inhabitants 
of this territory, His Excellency will allow a salary of 50Z. 
per annum, together with rations, to a steady man of good 
character, that can be well recommended, who will take an 
interest in efEecting an intercourse with this unfortunate race, 
to reside on Bruni Island, taking charge of the provisions 
supplied for the use of the Natives at that place." 

Here is the opportunity : — ^to be with the Blacks, to help 
them, to work for their good. But the prospect was not 
very favourable. It was no liberal offer. A pound a week, 
and a ration of food. He could make more than that at his 
trade. He did not seek great returns for his usefulness, but 
it was necessary that he should live. Besides, he was a 
married man. He had a wife to consider ; his children must 
not be sacrificed to his public spirit. The man, in a subse- 
quent review of this period, said : — " There were many power- 
ful reasons against my entering upon such an enterprise. I 
had a wife and several children dependent on me. But my 
mind was under an impression which I could not resist. I 
reasoned the matter over with Mrs. Kobinson, and with 
difficulty obtained her consent." 

On the 16th of March, 1829, he penned the following 
application : — 

** Peeling a strong desire to devote myself to the above 
cause, and believing the plan which your Excellency heis 
devised to be the only one whereby this unfortunate race can 
be ameliorated ; that as the Hottentot has been raised in the 


by Google 

BRUNI ISLE blacks' STATIOlf. 137 

scale of Being, and the inhabitants of the Society Islands are 
made an industrious and intelligent race, so likewise, by the 
same exertions, may the inhabitants of this territory be in- 
structed. With these impressions, I beg to offer myself for 
the situation. I would beg leave to submit to your Excel- 
lency that a salary of fifty pounds per annum is not suffi- 
cient for the support of my family — ^would therefore request 
that you would be pleased to make such additions to the 
salary as you may think meet. Should my offer be accepted, 
I do not wish the superfluities, I only desire to be able to 
procure the necessaries, of life. I wish to devote myself to 
this people." 

He was accepted, but at lOOZ. salary. 

Bruni Island, so called from Admirable Bruni D*Entre- 
casteaux, lies between the Channel and Storm Bay, and 
extends to the south-westward for fifty miles. South Bruni , 
in which Cook's Adventure Bay is situated, is united to 
North Bruni by a low, narrow neck of land, and was unin- 
habited at the time of our story. Upon the northern portion 
were then the salt works of Mr. Eoberts, and a few farms. 
The rocky coast exposed to the southern ocean is much torn 
and battered by the ever-boiling billows, and is carefully 
shunned by the mariner. Even upon the inner side, the 
access is often difficult from the frequent and sudden storms 
which rush up the Channel. A fantastic pile of lofty cliffs 
of basalt has been cut off from the island by the surging sea, 
and now stands, as the southern Bruni bulwarks, to receive 
the onset of the Antarctic currents, and break their crests. 
The whole island, from its deep indentations, exhibits the 
mark of such violent and long-sustained oceanic assaults, that 
it seems but to require a few charges more to destroy its unity 
of structure, and to reduce it to some straggling islets in a 
seething sea. 

In a little cove, on the western and inner side of Bruni, 
and two miles from the northernmost point called by the 
French Expedition Gap de la Sortie, the Black station had 
to be formed. 

Thirty years of suffering had passed away when I last 
looked into that place of settlement. The avenger and his 
victim had alike disappeared. The neophyte of civilization 
and the led-handed savage slept beneath the fallen leaves of 


by Google 


the forest. I turned my gaze from the bay to the opposite 
side of the channel. There, at Oyster Cove, at the distance 
of two or three miles from the scene of the first Black settle- 
ment, stood before me the rude homes of the last feeble few 
of the race ! There is something of a peculiar melancholy 
interest in the reflection, that the remnant of the Tasmanian 
tribes should expire within sight of the Bruni dep6t of their 
day of strength and independence. 

Eations of bread and potatoes were served out to finy 
Natives who could be induced to reside at the Station. 
These rations were poor in quality and deficient in quantity. 
The biscuits were the refuse of supplies, and the few potatoes 
a day would be but a miserable substitute for the plentiful 
and varied meal which the forest and sea provided for free 
rangers. It. was no wonder, then, that the Blacks induced 
to settle at Bruni, for protection and civilization, sickened 
of their asylum, and repeatedly escaped to the mainland. 
Sickness soon set in, and poor Robinson vainly attempted to 
afford relief. He shared his own personal rations with the 
poor creatures, urgently wrote for more support, and asked 
for a small amount of tobacco for those who had acquired 
the civilized art of smoking. Some tea and sugar were 
ordered, but the tobacco was prohibited as a luxury. The 
sickness increased. Wooreddy lost his first wife and child, 
another leading man and his two wives died, and a sad story 
is told of an infant being found suckling at the breast of its 
dead mother. The cry was, " No good — this bad place — ^no 
^gg — lio kangaroo — no like — all die." 

But a severe trial followed. The Blacks were to be civil- 
ized, and rendered fit instruments to benefit their wilder 
countrymen; yet they were placed on Bruni in close 
proximity to some of the worst characters of the colony. 
Mr. Robinson had repeated complaints from the women of 
cruel assaults by convict wood-cutters on the island, and he 
observed with indignation the effects of intercourse with 
the whalers. At that time the black whale came about the 
southern coast, and into the Storm Bay, and several perma- 
nent whaling establishments existed on Bruni and the mouth 
of the Channel. A rough class of men, with full rations of 
beef, spirits, and tobacco, they found ready means of attract- 
ing the presence of the females from the Black settlement. 


by Google 


. The locality of the dep6t did not furnish sufficient means for 
the isolation of his charge, and the Superintendent represented 
the necessity of removal to Barnes Bay, and, as he stated in 
his official letter, " care should be taken that they have no 
correspondence with the white heathen," 

The evil continued. The gins left the dep6t for the 
favourite company of the sailors, and introduced contention 
and disease into the -tfative camp. Mild expostulations and 
angry denunciations were alike of no service, and Eobinson 
wrote almost despairingly about the moral pestilence. 

But the storm of war was rising. Outrages and cruelties 
increased on the Bruni island. The Whites became more 
infuriated, and the Blacks more determined. The latter saw 
no hope, and resolved to die spear in hand. With another 
people, this would be considered heroic. We readily agree 
with Dr. Johnson, that a man's patriotism must be quickened 
at the sight of the plains of Marathon. We can all sympa- 
thize with some struggles for freedom. But when our own 
colonists are brought into collision with the races whoso 
lands they have seized without compensation or inquiry, the 
feeling is otherwise; the heroism of the foe is lost in the 
mist of our selfishness. The resolution, therefore, of the 
Tasmanians to make no peace with the possessors of their 
hunting-grounds excited the indignation and displeasure of 
the colony. It was then that Mr. Eobinson, sick of his 
miserable failure on Bruni, and conscious of his power to do 
something more eifective for the Natives, proposed going 
after the marauders of the wilds with a mission of mercy. 
The Aborigines Protection Committee seconded his sugges- 
tions, and the Government sanctioned his object. 

Let us hear an exposition of the system of his Covcili- 
ato^-y Mission from the reflection of its author, when a 
septuagenarian. " I considered," he said, " that the Natives 
of Van Diemen's Land were rational; and although they 
might, in their savage notions, oppose violent measures for 
their subjugation, yet if I could but get them to listen to 
reason, and persuade them that the Europeans wished only 
to better their condition, they might become civilized, and 
rendered useful members of society instead of the bloodthirsty, 
ferocious beings they were represented to be. This was the 
principle upon which I formed my plan." 


by Google 


Now for the coadjutors — the means of working out the ' 
project. A dozen Natives had been captured by Mr. Gilbert 
Eobertson, and others, and lodged for safety in the Kich- 
mond gaol. It was arranged to forward four of these to 
Eobinson, though the latter relied more upon his Bruni 
friends. The following were at first appointed to act as 
interpreters of his party : Black Tom, Pegale, Joseph, Doctor, 
and Maclean, a white man. Eumarrah, with Manalagana 
and wife, were afterwards with him. But the one upon 
whom he most relied, and who proved a faithful and efficient 
ally throughout his subsequent Bush career, was the youth- 
ful Truganina (spelt by Mr. Duterrau, Truggemana). This 
was the Beauty of Bruni, and one of the romances of 
Tasmanian story. 

When I saw her, thirty years after her wonderful career 
with Mr. Eobinson, I understood the stories told of her 
vivacity and intelligence. Her eyes were still beautiful, and 
full of mischievous fun. Thirty years before, she would 
have been captivating to men of her colour, and not by any 
means an uninteresting object to those of whiter skins. 
Her mind was of no ordinrry kind. Fertile in expedient, 
sagacious in council, courageous in difficulty, she had the 
fascination of the serpent, the intrepidity of the royal ruler of 
the desert. Would that we could say that her purity of morals 
equalled the brilliancy of her thoughts, and that her love 
of virtue were akin to her love of adventure ! She was but 
a savage maiden trained in the wilderness. A lady described 
to me her appearance in 1832. She declared her exquisitely 
formed, with small and beautifully-rounded breasts. The 
little dr^ss she wore was thrown loosely around her person, 
but always with a grace, and a coquettish love of display. 
The Courier of Hobart Town notices one characteristic in 
her portrait by Mr. Duterrau : " She is the very picture of 

She was a wife, though never a mother. Certainly, her 
older and more sober husband had no little anxiety with his 
fickle partner, and no small difficulty in restraining her erratic 
tendencies. We know not why she, who was ever so incon- 
stant of purpose, should have so perseveringly followed the 
Mission, and why she, who was a woman of the forest, should 
have devoted years of her life in fatiguing and perilous 


by Google 





by Google 


journeys to entrap and secure her countrymen. Some have 
thought vanity was her leading passion, and that the desire 
of distinction among Whites and Blacks induced her to 
become the prominent guide and interpreter. "Without doubt 
she was personally attached to Mr. Robinson, and strove 
earnestly to serve him. It was for this purpose that she 
studied to acquire other dialects, so as to hold intercourse 
with the wilder tribes of the interior. Although her husband, 
Wooreddy (or **the Doctor"), consented to be one of the 
Conciliator's party, there is a story told that shortly after the 
departure of the Mission, in January 1830, as Mr. Robinson 
was sleeping near a large cave, the excited husband arose in 
the night, took a weapon in his hand, and would have mur- 
dered our white friend, from jealousy of his influence over 
Truganina, had not his intention been discovered in time. 
And yet Wooreddy continued to accompany him. ** He was 
present,'' says Mr. Duterrau, ** at all Mr. Robinson's inter- 
views with the Blacks. Through the intervention of this 
man, Mr. Robinson has been preserved from extreme danger 
when his life was about to be taken from him. ' 

Manalagana (or, Limina Bungana), " as a warrior," said 
Mr. Duterrau, "stood unrivalled amongst the Aborigines, 
and was considered a sage by his tribe." The artist, who was 
a devoted friend to Mr. Robinson, goes on to observe ; — " Such 
was the commanding influence Mr. Robinson possessed over 
these singular people, that, at the first interview, Manalagana 
left his native wilds, and accompanied Mr. Robinson on all 
his missionary enterprises throughout the island, to whom he 
continued faithfully attached to the conclusion of his service 
in 1835." Manalagana then i*emoved to Flinders Island, 
whither all the captured were taken, and died in March of 
the following year, 1836. 

Of his wife, Mr. Duterrau has these words of commend- 
ation : — ** This woman laboured incessantly to promote the 
objects of the Mission. Tanleboueyer and her sister were 
originally stolen from their country by the sealers, when 
children, and held in bondage until emancipated by Mr. 
Robinson (in 1830). She was superior to the other Natives 
both in person and intelligence, and possessed much dignity 
of manners, seldom participating in those frivolities the others 
Indulged in. She was exceedingly attached to her husbands 


by Google 


The feeling was mutual, for during the period of six years 
they were with Mr. Robinson they never quarrelled." 

U'he start was not an auspicious one. A boat had been 
provided for the passage to Port Davey, on the south-west ; 
but it was wrecked, with the loss of nearly all the supplies. 
The determination of his character would permit of no delay, 
nor retrograde movement ; so Mr. Robinson set off with his 
knapsack of bread, and tramped it to the place. He had 
given himself to his work, and was resolved, like a good 
soldier, to go through the campaign he had begun. His 
engagement with the Government was for twelve months; 
but, aware of the uncertainty of life, he had required payment 
of one half-year's salary in advance for his wife, and the 
Governor's authority for some provision for his family in the 
event of his decease. 

His mission had nearly terminated in his destruction in. 
this first year of his course. Walloa, a female Aborigine, 
rose, like a Joan of Arc, amidst a nation of warriors, to 
deliver her people. She gathered a party together by her 
eloquence, urging a baud to violence and war by her appeals, 
and by her courageous conduct in the field. Heading at last 
the Port Sorell tribe, she led them to the murder of Captain 
Thomas and others. Hearing that Mr. Robinson was in her 
neighbourhood, she immediately directed her force against 
him. Being warned of her approach, he fled in haste. For 
five days did the pursuit continue, when, just as all hope of 
escape was relinquished by the Mission, he was delivered 
from this tigress of the north by the unexpected arrival of 
M'Geary and his party. So strong a front of armed Europeans 
stayed the expected assault, and the dark Semiramis retired 
northward again. 

It was during the last quarter of 1830 that the great 
campaign called " The Line " took place, which absorbed the 
attention of the colony, and exercised a powerful and happy 
influence upon the fortunes of the Conciliatory Mission. The 
whole strength of the island was collected to be hurled in 
anger against the dreaded Blacks. That manoeuvre, though 
not productive in immediate results, was doubtless the means 
of completing the success of Mr. Robinson. 

In his first year he had traversed the whole of the western 
and northern country. At Cape Grim, to the north-west, he 


by Google 


had met with the distinguished Bendoadicka, his wife Narraga, 
and brother Pee wee. Two went onward with him from the 
Mersey. While the Line was out he was in the Cape Port- 
land District, to the north-east. It was there he heard of 
the splendid capture of thirteen at one time, and twelve at 
another, by the party of Messrs. M*Geary and M*Kay. Dis* 
appointed in his own plans, it was then that he executed the 
first part of his mission among the sealers. That formed the 
relief to his year of failures. Having authority from the 
Governor, he visited some of the islands in the Straits, and 
rescued eighteen native females from the sealers. 

In 1831 His Excellency sought the trial of moral agency 
alone. Mr. Kobinson had urged the withdrawal of the armed 
parties from the Bush. Some said this was to secure the 
whole management of the capture, and deprive the earlier 
leaders of the prize. Certain it is, however, that high rewards 
were offered to secure the aid of persons in this benevolent 
enterprise of unarmed intervention, without a single response. 
Mr. Robinson had, therefore, the problem to resolve alone. 
His salary was raised to 250Z., and a strong force organized. 
There were many, of course, who saw no hope in such 
chivalrous ventures, and derided the sugar-plum speculation. 

As he had to forego the use of physical force, he had 
recourse to some stratagem. His black female guides were 
decorated as decoys in gaudy ribbons, to attract the eye of 
the Bush wanderer. Trinkets were distributed, and marvel- 
lous toys provided. An ex-Bushranger assured me that he 
had found red feathers, red strings, and other pretty-looking 
objects hung in the trees of the far interior by the adven- 
turous party. Gooseberry, Violet, Molly, Truganina, and 
others, looked well in their civilized adornments, and em- 
ployed their arts and smiles to secure their simple country- 
men. They were the light skirmishers of the force. But 
that upon which stronger reliance was placed was the power 
of sympathy. The gathering numbers added, like a rolling 
snowball, to the strength of the Mission. One had a sister 
or brother in a neighbouring tribe, and natural affection urged 
the search after the lost one, to save such from the danger of 
the war. Or, a wild son of the tribe had longings after a 
wife previously captured, and so entered the fold to find a 
mate. A father sought a son, or a child a parent ; and many 


by Google 


a joyous rennion was thus eifected. Then, as the families 
formed, or sufficient numbers arrived, they were draughted 
off to join the free and happy neighbours sJready safe in the 
new hunting-ground. 

The first conquest of 1831 was the Stony Creek tribe. Its 
chief, Moultehalergunah, as Mr. Robinson spells his name, 
had been a great White-hunter. Twenty of these were 
secured by Mr. Eobinson, with M'Geary, M*Lean, and Piatt. 
Liraina, or Manalagana, was of service near Cape Portland. 
It was affecting to hear the gathering tales of trouble. One 
asked for a son, another for a sister, a third for a wife. One 
was much interested in a sister, Black Jock, who had been 
stolen by the sealers, and he entreated the Marmanuke, or 
FafheVy to go in search of her. Eumarra met Mr. Eobinson 
in the forest, rushed towards him, and grasped his hand with 
warmth. He brought five men and a woman in with him. 
In June 1831, in his official report, Mr. Robinson was able 
to say that, through the efforts of his party 123 had yielded, 
236 had been communicated with, 110 had returned to their 
hunting-grounds, and 16 had escaped after capture. He 
himself had become acquainted with sixteen tribes of this 

It was toward the end of 1831 that Mr. Robinson had such 
remarkable success. His faithful friend, Manalagana, was 
with him. This noble-minded savage is al ways presented 
to us in heroic attitude, and the enthusiastic painter,* Mr. 
Duterrau, with other admirers, were justified in their estim- 
ation of the superior intellect, courage, and benevolence of 
this extraordinary man. His son had been murdered by a 
ruthless tribe, and yet, with all the natural feelings of a 
father, and the human passion for revenge, he appears to 
have acted the Christian part of not only restraining the 
impetuous vengeance of his sable friends, but of co-operating 
in good faith and principle with Mr. Robinson to bring in 
the offending tribe without bloodshed, so that they might be 
saved from destruction. It was as much as he, the chief, 
could do, on several occasions, to prevent the Mission of 
Conciliation becoming a March of Massacre. 

The Mission arrived at Lake Echo on the 18th of Novem- 
ber. It was a strong force, consisting of Mr. Robinson, his 
son, a Sandwich Islander, a messenger, and twelve friendly 


by Google 


Aborigines. They had ascended from the valleys of Central 
Tasmania, and had reached the vast and irregular plateau, 
occupying a position somewhat similar to the Deccan of India. 

The smoke of the fugitives was distinguished, rising into 
thin columns through the foliage, by the keen eyes of the 
Friendlies. A rush was made towards the camp-fire. But it 
was too late. The hunted creatures, always on the watch, 
with true Indian sagacity had discovered their supposed 
enemies, and hastily retired before being observed. Eobinson 
urged on the pursuit. One Native only, a female, knew the 
country ; but, alarmed at the proximity of the much-dreaded 
tribe, she designedly led the party astray, and a whole month 
w^as lost. On the last day of the year they came in sight 
of the lost prey. Here Eobinson practised his Bush-craft. 
Sending forward some Native decoys, he and the rest planted, 
or hid, themselves in a thick scrub, most anxiously await- 
ing the result of the negotiation. The rest may be better 
described in his own words : — 

** In less than half an hour afterwards I heard their war- 
whoop, by which I knew that they were then advancing 
upon me. I also heard them rattle their spears as they drew 
nearer. At this moment Manalagana leaped on his feet in 
great alarm, saying the Natives were coming to spear us. He 
urged me to run away. Finding that I would not do so, he 
immediately took up his spears and kangaroo rug, and walked 
away. Some of the other Natives were about to follow his 
example, but I prevailed upon them to stop. From their 
advancing with the war-whoop, the Aborigines as well as 
ourselves considered that they were approaching us with 
hostile intentions, and that they had either killed the Natives 
who had been sent from us, or that those Natives had joined 
the hostile tribes. As they drew nigh, I did not observe my 
people amongst them. The hostile Natives being a large body, 
I was rather anxious as to the result. It was not until they 
approached very near that I saw my own people with them. 
They continued coming up in the same warlike attitude. I 
then went up to the chiefs and shook hands with them. 
Having explained to them in the aboriginal dialect the 
purport of my visit amongst them, I invited them to sit 
down, gave them some refreshment, and selected a few trinkets 
as presents, which they received with much delight. They 



by Google 

j^, ' ""HT X3^ ^j-^.'-fc^ 

1st aiiOT'sic 

"■r*-- - ^nzL ^m»sat "LJi*- 

*x "^.x* ^ >^ .^ ■'-.*' '- ^: ^ -CT***^!!. "Lit* ^icrr*s 

^ C ■* " -'t V-i-r ■* » ; -v^. . , '■"•j^ .-** -'Z.— ^t*-* "▼*££■* ~~~— 

\^'^* ^■'^^- ' '^^•^ "- -• ^ --^ -.-^-^ :stT-«s. Tift 

^ .^,^ -^v.^ .,.^v -^ . - ^ > ^' ,-. - - -x^- 5o-irr -ii,ef. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


2 i 

1 f S 

o < 

•-* (4 

w g 

I ti 


I S s 

3 I 

i § 


evinced considerable astonishment at hearing me address 
them in their own tongue, and from henceforth placed them- 
selves entirely under my control The men were accom- 
panied by the women ; and, after taking their refreshment, 
I returned with them to their own encampment, where the 
evening was spent in mutual good-humour, each party dancing 

Thus terminated most satisfactorily this day of anxiety. 
The dangerous people were secured. 

The capture of the Big River, or Ouse Eiver tribe, was by 
far the grandest feature of the war, and the crowning glory 
of Mr. Robinson's efforts. Having learned the story from 
various sources, I would attempt a description of this blood- 
less victory. 

The leader had ventured westward under the shadow of 
the Frenchman's Cap, whose grim cone rose five thousand 
feet in the uninhabited western interior. There, at last, 
appeared the tribe of which they were in search. It was a 
terrible hour, — one in which a man lives years in minutes. 
That tribe was the terror of the colony, the " Black Douglas " 
of Bush households. Confident in their strength, the Natives 
stayed for the approach of the strangers. Mr. Robinson was 
accompanied by his brave stripling of a son, by M*Geary, 
Stanfield, and a Hawaiian Islander. Manalagana and Tru- 
ganina were there. The stout-looking but handsome Mont- 
peliata, the chieftain, glared at them. He grasped a spear 
eighteen feet in length. Fifteen powerful men, with three 
spears and a waddy each, filled with all the hate and loathing 
for white men which such a war had excited, were ill- 
restrained by the voice and gesture of their head. They 
rattled their spears, shouted their battle-cry, and menaced the 
Mission party. The women kept to the rear, each carrying 
on her back a fresh supply of weapons. One hundred and 
fifty dogs growled defiance at the intruders. 

It was a moment of trial to the stoutest nerves. The 
Whites trembled. The friendly Blacks, half palsied with 
fear, would all have fled but for the self-possession of their 
commander. They were, as it were, beneath the dreaded 
eye of the storm, around whose treacherous calm the wild 
cyclone was dancing in fury. A word from that stern chief, 
and every man would be transfixed with spears. ** I think 


by Google 


Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


we shall soon be in the resurrection," whispered M'Geary, a 
veteran in Native-hunting. " I think we shall,"* rejoined Mr. 

They came into the presence of the tribe, and stood still. 
The chief advanced toward them, some sixty yards in front 
of his tribe. He saw the friendly Natives quivering with ' 
alarm, and the Europeans firmly standing, though apparently 
without arms. "Who are you]'* shouted Montpeliata. 
" We are gentlemen," was the response. " Where are your 
guns ] " was the next question. " We have none," said the 
leader. Still suspicious, though astonished, the dark warrior 
cried out, " Where your piccaninny 1 *' — alluding to pistols, 
or little guns. " We have none," was again the reply. 

There was another pause. Their fate was not yet decided. 
The male guides were much alarmed. Bungena fairly ran 
over the hilL Then came the first gleam of hope. The chief 
called after him, and told him to come back, for he would 
not hurt him. Meanwhile, some of the courageous female 
guides had glided round, and were holding quiet, earnest 
converse with their wilder sisters. Another few minutes of 
irresolution, and then Montpeliata walked slowly to the rear 
to confer with the old women — the real arbiters of war. 
The men pointed their spears in watchful guard; but the 
yelping curs were called off. With admirable discipline, the 
brutes retired, and were instantly quiet. 

As the fallen gladiator in the arena looks for the signal of 
life or death from the president of the amphitheatre, so 
waited our friends in anxious suspense while the conference 
continued. In a few minutes, before a word was uttered, 
the women of the tribes threw up their arms three times. 
This was the inviolable sign of peace. Down fell the spears. 
Forward, with a heavy sigh of relief, and upward glance of 
gratitude, came the friends of peace. The impulsive Natives 
rushed forth with tears and cries, as each saw in the other's 
rank a loved one of the past. Eumarra recognized his two 
brothers in the tribe, and his wife embraced three other 
relatives. The chief of Bruni grasped the hand of his 
brother Montpeliata. 

It was a jubilee of joy. A festival followed. And, while 
tears flowed at the recital of woe, a corrobory of pleasant 
laughter closed the eventful day. 

L 2 


by Google 


When this desperate tribe was captured, there was much 
surprise and some chagrin to find that the 30,000Z. had been 
spent, and the whole population of the colony placed under 
arms, in contention with an opposing force of sixteen men 
with wooden spears ! Yet such was the fact. The celebrated 
Big Eiver or Ouse Mob, that had been raised by European 
fears to a host, consisted of sixteen men, nine women and 
one child. With a knowledge of the mischief done by these 
few, their wonderful marches and their wide-spread aggres- 
sions, their enemies cannot deny to them the attributes of 
courage and military tact. A Wallace might harass a large 
army with a small and determined band ; but the contending 
parties were at least equal in arms and civilization. The 
Zulus who fought us in Africa, the Maories in New Zealand, 
the Arabs in the Soudan, were far better provided with 
weapons, more advanced in the science of war, and consider- 
ably more numerous, than the naked Tasmanians. Governor 
Arthur rightly termed them a noble race. 

Though they thus submitted to moral force, it was because 
they felt their work was done. They had fought for the 
soil, and were vanquished. They had lost fathers, brothers, 
sons, in war. Their mothers, wives, and daughters, harassed 
by continued . alarms, worn by perpetual marches, enfeebled 
by want and disease, had sunk down one by one to die in 
the forest, leaving but a miserable remnant. Their children 
had been sacrificed to the cruel exactions of patriotism, 
and had perished of cold, hunger, and fatigue, or had been 
murdered by parental hands, as the Roman maiden of old, 
to prevent a supposed worse fate. 

Dr. Story told me that the Line movement " struck them 
with such surprise, and displayed the powers that could be 
brought to bear against them, that G. A. Eobinson had less 
difficulty in persuading them to accompany him where they 
would not be molested by the Whites, and have 'plenty 
damper, sugar, blanket.' When he landed on the north-east 
comer of the island, he with his tame Blacks followed the 
wild ones for some days before they would return with him 
to his boat. They had been terrified by the Line^ saying it 
was * pop, pop, pop, all pop.' * If,' he said, * y6u go there, 
you get killed. Come with me — you get plenty damper. I 
don't want you to come with me, but you get killed,* if you 


by Google 


go there.' And thus he worked upon them; some going 
with him, others followed after a time." 

The Hon. J. H. Wedge, when writing to me of the lAney 
added, ^* Notwithstanding the want of success attending the 
expedition, I am impressed with the belief that it had a 
considerable moral effect upon the minds of the Natives, and 
disposed them to lend a more willing ear to Mr. Robinson's 
. propositions, when he succeeded in gaining an interview with 

Mr. Eobinson's own way is curiously expressed in his 
letter of December 14th, 1830 : — " The grand object is in 
getting to them, for until this is accomplished, speaking to 
them is out of the question. There is not a nation or people 
with whom I have conferred, but what have fled at my 
approach, as clouds before the tempest, yet I have never left 
them, until I have eventually succeeded in effecting an 
intercourse with them." 

This letter is in his own handwriting; it has its own 
peculiar orthography and punctuation. 

The tribe had yielded as friends, not prisoners. It is true 
that they laid down their spears, and brought forth from 
hidden places sixteen stand of arms, which they had taken 
in the war ; but the captors had prudently as well as generously 
returned their spears, so needful for hunting purposes. At 
any easy rate the mixed parties proceeded toward the settle- 
ment of Both well, situated to the westward of the main line 
from Hobai t Town to Launceston. They arrived there, to 
the great alarm of the inhabitants, on the 5th of January, 
Mr. Robinson guaranteeing the peaceable behaviour of his 
wild charge. When visiting the little township in 1842, 1 
was shown the site of the encampment, and I heard the tale 
of unnecessary fears. 

On the road thither the Conciliator conversed with his 
sable companions, and heard many sad stories of the sufferings 
of the tribes, and vehement denunciations of the cruelties of 
the Europeans. They showed him their wounds. They all, 
" men, women, and child," he said, ** had dreadful scars." He 
went to the Bothwell Inn, and had the unwonted luxury of 
a bed, with no apprehension of the tribe leaving him in the 

From Bothwell he addressed this letter to head-quarters, 


by Google 


on January 5th, 1832 : — " On the 31st ultimo, I succeeded in 
effecting a friendly communication with these sanguinary 
tribes. Their whole number was twenty-six, viz. sixteen 
men, nine women, and one child, including the celebrated 
chief MontpeiUiatter of the Big River tribe. I fell in with 
these people thirty miles KW. of the Peak of Teneriffe." 

On they came in their confiding trust, though much to the 
terror as well as curiosity of the settlers. Mr. Robinson was 
greeted indeed with a triumphal entry. His own house was 
at the head of the town, and his wife and children were 
spectators of his glory. He came with prisoners, but no 
victims. He ended a war, and presented voluntary captives. 
The whole population assembled to witness the procession. 
First came the worthy victor, with his white companions. 
Then were seen his own fourteen faithful native followers, 
and the twenty-six wilder people of the woods, the men with 
spears in hand. Shouts of welcome greeted all. The estimable 
Governor was deeply moved, and waited at Government 
House to receive and entertain his guests. The tender eyes 
of women were swimming with tears as the dark race passed 
on, and kind looks and smiles fell gently upon the war-tossed 
ones. Presents came before the Governor's feast ; lollies or 
sweetmeats, toys, pictures, dresses were showered upon them. 

Two specimens of Colonial poetic fire appeared to commemo- 
rate so auspicious an event One, by Hobartia, was published 
in the HohaH Town Magazine, for 1834. It commenced : — 

**Tliey came, sad remnant of a bygone race, 
Surviving mourners of a nation dead ; 
Proscribed inheritors of rights which trace 

Their claims coeval with the world ! They tread 
Upon their nation's tomb ! 
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

" They came like straggling leaves together blown, 
The last memorial of the foliage past ; 
The living bough upon the tree o'erthrown, 
When branch and trunk lie dead." 

The next is called * Lines written on the recent Visit of 
the Aborigines to Hobart Town : ' — 

** They are come in their pride, but no helmet is gleaming 
On the dark-brow'd race of their native land ; 
No lances are glittering, nor bright banners streaming, 
O'er the warriors brave of that gallant band. 


by Google 


** They are come in their pride, but no war-cry is sounding, 
"With its woe-fraught note, over hill and plain ; 
For the hearts of those dark ones with gladness are bounding, 
And bright songs of peace breathe loud in their strain. 

" They are come — they are come, and a boon they're imploring, 
Oh ! turn not away from their soul-felt prayer. 
But to high hopes of Heaven this lost race restoring. 
For yourselves gain mercy and pardon there." 

Colonel Arthur pleased them with his courtesy. Anxious 
to afford them additional gratification, he ordered the band 
out. Bat the effect was different from that which he ex- 
pected. The poor creatures screamed with terror, and crowded 
round Mr. Robinson with entreaties for protection. It was 
long before their fears subsided, when they would cautiously 
approach the drums and touch them, as if to test the power 
of the noisy animal 

Then a grand demonstration took place. During the 
festival their confidence increased, and they were induced to 
show forth their strength and skill, after being personally 
decorated with ribbons by the Governor. Ondia put a cray- 
fish on a spear, and at a distance of sixty yards brought 
it down with another spear. Thus hours passed in the 
Governor's garden, which was thrown open to all comers 
on the occasion. That evening Mr. Eobinson took them to 
his own home, and they camped about his premises. 

It was on this occasion thit portraits were taken of the 
Aborigines by Mr. Duterrau. My late esteemed friend, Mr. 
Thomas Napier, J. P., of Essondon, Victoria, then took 
sketches of some of the people, and copies of which paintings 
I have secured by the brush of the late Mr. Thomas Clark, 
the Melbourne artist. 

A few days afterwards a vessel was prepared, and the 
Natives were induced to go on board, in order to reach 
splendid hunting-grounds, where no soldiers and parties were 
to be found, and where they would never be molested. On 
their way to the Straits they suffered much from sea-sickness. 
The captain of the vessel assured me that it was pitiable 
to witness their distress. Their moaning was sad indeed. 
They appeared to feel themselves forsaken and helpless, and 
abandoned themselves to despair. 

The children, with few exceptions, were not suffered to go 


by Google 


to the prospective settlement, but were placed in what was 
known as the Orphan School, near Hobart Town^ This 
establishment was for the care and education of neglected and 
orphan children of convicts. The building is of great extent, 
the grounds are spacious, and the arrangements generally 
are suitable for the object. Hundreds of children, from help- 
less infancy to the age of fourteen, are there provided with 
board and education. It is over forty years ago since I had 
the pleasure of seeing there the dark offspring of the warriors 
of the Black War. Most of them struck me as being sickly 
and depressed, and I wondered not at the terrible mortality 
that had thinned their numbers. 

The greatest enthusiasm attended the reception of Mr. 
Robinson. The newspapers were loud in his praise, and the 
jealousy of his rivals yielded to admiration. Although Ms 
salary as Conciliator, or head of the Friendly Mission, had 
been previously raised to 250Z., and a bonus of lOOZ. bestowed, 
some fresh demonstration of gratitude for his efforts was 
demanded. He himself wrote a letter, presenting his claims. 
The Committee for the Protection of the Aborigines were 
prepared to second his memorial. A grant of four hundred 
pounds was made, and a promise was given of seven hundred 
more upon the completion of his wonderful mission. 

Ever prompt in his decisions and movements, we find him 
off on the 11th of February for Great Island, afterwards 
Flinders Island, to report upon a suitable home for the 
captured ones. Then he struck off to the west once more, as 
the poor hunted creatures had by this time quite and for ever 
deserted the central and eastern portions of the island — the 
scene of the Line operations. At Port Davey twenty-six 
were saved. Several of these were found to be above six feet 
in height. One old man put the captor in mind of Abraham 
with his white beard. The tribe had never been active in 
the war. 

More conquests of peace followed the capture at Port 
Davey. At Birch's Eock, sixteen were taken; at West 
Point, six; at Mount Cameron, five; at the Surrey Hills, 
four ; and at Sandy Cape, thirty-seven. From the report of 
July 12th, 1832, we learn that thirty-two were gained in the 
neighbourhood of Macquarie Harbour. At one place on the 
west coast, where sixteen were collected, their appearance 


by Google 


was so wretched that they were said to resemble ourang- 
outangs rather than human beings. One poor old man had 
had his eyes shot out by some Christian pursuer. Mr. 
Robinson was much moved at this spectacle of misery. 

A most formidable difficulty was experienced by Mr. 
Eobinson on the Arthur Eiver. This was in the inhospitable 
region to the north-west. A strong band of Aborigines had 
been brought under his notice by the friendly Blacks, and a 
conference had been held one evening in September 1832. 
In spite of the appeals of the Nestor, Manalagana, and the 
lucid exposition of the situation by the leader in his best 
Tasmanian speech, the forest men distrusted the offered con- 
ditions, and sullenly declined the advances of the Whites. 
A night of dreadful suspense followed. After the conference, 
the strangers camped at a little distance, and kept up noisy 
talk and rattling of spears through the hours of darkness. 
Our leader, conscious of the necessity of reassuring his own 
party, put on a calm and confident appearance, threw off some 
of his clothes, rolled himself in his blanket before the fire, 
and watchfully waited for the morn. The subsequent 
adventures are thus told by himself : — 

" At the earliest dawn of day they made a large fire, around 
which the men assembled, and began preparing their weapons 
intended for my destruction. At this juncture, one of the 
wild ^Natives (a relative of one of my friendly Aborigines) 
commenced a vehement discussion, and argued against the 
injustice of killing me, and asked why they wanted to kill 
their friend and protector. I had by this time put on my 
raiment. My aboriginal companions were exceedingly alarmed , 
and, on looking for their spears, found that the wild Natives 
had taken them away during the night. Several of their 
blankets had also been stolen, and attempts had been made 
to tie up the dogs. In the midst of the discussion I rose up, 
and stood in front of them with my arms folded, thinking to 
divert them from their savage purpose. I said if they were 
not willing to go with me, they could return again to their 
own country. Scarcely had I spoken ere they shouted their 
war-whoop, seized their spears, and proceeded at once to 
surround me. With their left hand they grasped a bundle 
of spears, whilst in their right they held one. My Aborigines 
shrieked and fled. The Natives had nearly encircled me. 


by Google 


Their spears raised were poised in the air. The friendly 
Aborigines were gone. At this crisis, I made ofL Although 
I saw not the slightest chance of escape, I pursued my way 
rapidly through some copse, winding round the acclivity of 
some low hills, and took a north-east direction toward an 
angle of the river ; on approaching which I saw one of the 
friendly Natives who had escaped, who, with much trepida- 
tion, said that all the rest of the Natives were killed. At the 
same instant she descried the hostile Blacks approaching, and 
in much alarm begged of me to hide, while she swam the 
river and went to the encampment. To have attempted con- 
cealment at such a crisis would have been next to suicide. 
And looking up (for the river hath steep banks on either 
side), I saw one of the wild Natives looking for my footsteps. 
At this instant he turned, and I lost sight of him. I saw no 
chance of escape, except by crossing the river. The difficulty 
appeared insurmountable. I could not swim. The current 
was exceedingly rapid, and it required time to construct a 
machine. The Natives were in strict search after me, and I 
expected every moment to be overtaken. The raft on which 
I came over was nearly a mile lower down. I was persuaded 
the hostile Natives would be waiting to intercept me. I 
therefore abandoned all thoughts of crossing on this machine. 
I made an attempt to cross on a small spar of wood, and was 
precipitated into the river, and nearly carried away by the 
current. After repeated attempts, I succeeded, with the aid 
of the woman, in getting across. In 1838, at a public meeting 
in New South Wales, he gave full credit to Truganina for 
saving his life. 

It is pleasant to record this acknowledgment The man 
tried to get across the river by striding a log and paddling 
with his hands and arms, when, falling over into the water, 
he would have been certainly drowned, had not the courageous 
Native jumped into the water and rescued him. On visiting 
her at Oyster Cove I reminded her of the incident, when 
the little old woman clapped her hands, danced about, and 
laughed most merrily. She then gave me her version of the 
aifair, adding most expressive and pantomimic performances 
to aid her in her narrative. 

The sequel of this adventure was, that upon his arrival at 
his party's retreat, Mr. Kobinson found several of his Natives 


by Google 


missing. In the mean time, instead of rushing across the 
rapid stream, the wild Blacks were content with sitting on a 
liill on their side of the water, and indulging in bad language. 
They threatened that if they caught the chief of the Con- 
ciliatory Mission they would burn his body, and make charms 
of his ashes to wear round their necks. The Englishman 
sought to mollify, their wrath, again and again urging his 
innocence of any evil design against them. His appeals 
had, at least, some effect, for the soft heart of a girl was 
moved at his eloquence, and Kyenrope, the daughter of the 
chief of the Pieman's River tribe, made her way over the 
river, and joined the Mission. Old Wyne, her father, wit- 
nessed her flight, and denounced her folly in choicest native 

Still, Mr. Robinson did not feel comfortable in the vicinity 
of such neighbours, and made use of a ruse to extricate him- 
self from the dilemma. He caused his men to make a great 
fire of damp wood and leaves, so as to create a vast cloud of 
smoke, as if signalling for assistance from some countrymen 
near at hand. The alarmed Aborigines beat a precipitate 
retreat, and left the course open to the exultant beleaguered. 
Though now forty miles from Cape Grim, the nearest British 
settlement, he hastened off to that place of refuge. 

Notwithstanding Mr. Robinson was in this instance unsuc- 
cessful, we may credit him with having left some impression ; 
for we read in Mr. Cottrell's letter to Mr. Robinson, on 
January 19th, 1833 :— " On the 10th, we fell in with the 
tribe that attacked you at the Arthur's River. Old Wyne 
and Edick were with them. They remained with us all 
night, and agreed to accompany us to Macquarie Harbour ; 
but when we had marched about four miles, the following 
day, they disappeared amongst some scrub." 

Well might the good man exclaim in after-times : — ** In all 
my difficulties, my sole dependence was on the Omnipotent 
Being ; and I may truly say, I was led in the paths which I 
knew not, preserved in danger by His power alone. Fre- 
quently have I seen the sun go down without any expectation 
of beholding it again in the morning; and I have been 
surrounded by savage Blacks, with their spears presented at 
me, and have been spared when all hope had fled." That 
successful Fijian Missionary, the Rev. Mr. Hunt, told a 


by Google 


meetin^^ in Sydney : — " It is very easy to sit down and write, 
' I don't believe the Blacks to be men ; ' much easier than to 
go among them, as Mr. Robinson has done, and show that 
they were not the brutes they are represented to be, but were 
susceptible of moral improvement, and fully possessed the 
attributes of humanity." 

The work went on. More came in 1833. In October of 
that year, Mr. Robinson returned to Hobart Town, with his 
son, bringing thirty Aborigines. These were taken to 
Government House, royally entertained, and subsequently 
forwarded to the island retreat in Bass's Straits. Their 
friend, in his official communication, wrote : — " It cannot 
afterwards be said that these people were harshly treated, 
that they were torn from their country. No ; their removal 
has been for their benefit, and in almost every instance of 
their own free will and consent." 

In 1834, we find the indefatigable man at his post. On 
February 28th he succeeded in capturing eight, and placing 
them, for temporary safety, on Hunter's Island, at the western 
entrance of the Strait, with the help of some sealer's boats. 
Three others followed on March 14th, and nine on April 
12th. These twenty — seven men, five women, and eight 
younger persons — were then conveyed in the Emerald to 
Flinders. These were all obtained in the north-western 
corner of Yan Diemen's Land, ami were, singularly enough, 
the remnant of that tribe that attacked Mr. Robinson on the 
Arthur River, two years before. They confessed their in- 
tention was to have murdered him on that occasion. 

Upon native information, Mr. Robinson wrote to the 
Governor that there were but two old men and their families 
left at large in the island. Colonel Arthur and the Colonial 
Secretary thought otherwise, and so it proved. 

Onward, still onward, was the order of the indomitable 
Robinson. No one ignorant of the western country of 
Tasmania can form a correct idea of the travelling difficulties. 
While I was resident in Hobart Town, the Governor, Sir 
John Franklin, and his lady, undertook the western journey 
to Macquarie Harbour, and suffered terribly. One man, who 
assisted to carry her ladyship through the swamps, gave me 
his bitter experience of its miseries. Several were disabled 
for life. No wonder that but one party, escaping from 


by Google 


Macquarie Harbour convict settlement, arrived at the civil- 
ized region in safety. Men perished in the scrub, were lost 
in snow, or were devoured by their companions. This was 
the territory traversed by Mr. Eobinson and his Black guides. 
All honour to his intrepidity, and their wonderful fidelity ! 
When they had, in the depth of winter, to cross deep and 
rapid rivers, pass among mountains six thousand feet high, 
pierce dangerous thickets, and find food in a country for- 
saken even by birds, we can realize their hardships. 

After a frightful journey by Cradle Mountain, and over the 
lofty plateau of Middlesex Plains, the travellers experienced 
unwonted misery, and the circumstances called forth the best 
qualities of the noble little band. Mr. Robinson wrote 
afterwards to Mr. Secretary Burnett some details of this 
passage of horrors. In that letter, of Oct. 2, 1834, he states 
that his Natives were very reluctant to go over the dreadful 
mountain passes ; that " for seven successive days we con- 
tinued travelling over one solid body of snow ; " that " the 
snows were of incredible depth ; " that " the Natives were 
frequently up to their middle in snow." But still the ill- 
clad, ill-fed, diseased, and wayworn men and women, includ- 
ing the merry little Truganina,- were sustained by the cheer- 
ful voice of their unconquerable friend, and responded most 
nobly to his call ; while their legs, as we are told, were cruelly 
lacerated in threading the thorny scrub, and clambering the 
feharp rocks. 

But their labours were splendidly rewarded. The last 
party were caught. They were seen at the extreme "Western 
Blutf, December 28th, 1834. There were four women, a 
man, three boys, with an attendance of thirty dogs. Long 
had they desired to come in, and join their relations taken 
before. They had even at times ventured within sight of an 
isolated hut ; but the shot fired at them warned them rather 
to trust to the inhospitable western forest in the winter cold, 
than place themselves in the way of white men. Mr. 
Eobinson thus graphically describes in his letter the scene 
of the meeting : — " The moment these poor creatures saw our 
Natives advancing, they ran forward, and embraced them in 
a most afi'ecting manner. To this truly affecting scene, a 
most interesting conversation followed." All honour to the 
man who had brought such peace to these wanderers ! 


by Google 


On tho 22nd of January, 1835, the last party of eight 
Aborigines came into Hobart Town. The Mission wjis 
accomplished. Mr. Eobinson had finished his work. In 
1830 and 1831 he had brought in fifty-four; in 1832. sixty- 
three ; in 1833, forty-two. The last two years of 1834 and 
1835 saw the island swept of its original inhabitants. 

Now came the question — what should be done to the man 
whom the nation delighted to honour ? The promised cash 
from the Government came to hand, and a thousand acres of 
land fell also to his share. Public meetings were held to 
acknowledge his services, and raise funds for a testimonial. 
A good sum — said to have been some thousands — was pre- 
sented to him. 

For a short time only, Mr. Eobinson became Commandant 
of Flinders Island ; but his administrative abilities were 
inferior to his Bush lore. For his life in the island, the 
reader is referred to the next chapter. 

A new sphere opened for him. Tasmanian settlers had 
crossed the Straits with their flocks, and the plains of Port 
Phillip were dotted with homesteads. The Native difficulty 
had arisen there. Cruelties on the one side, and outrages on 
the other, had indicated the beginning of another Black 
"War. The Home Government, anxious to prevent a further 
depopulation of original inhabitants, sought by wise measures 
the conciliation of the dark tribes, and the safety of the 
colonists. Mr. Eobinson received an offer of 500Z. a year to 
be Protector of the Aborigines of Port Phillip. In 1838, he 
became a citizen of that colony. It is not within the scope 
of the present work to criticise the performance of his duties 
there. In 1853, he retired to enjoy his ease in England. 
Advancing age subdued the fire of his character, and in peace- 
ful quietude he spent his declining days. He died at Prahran, 
Bath, on the 18th of October, 1866. 


The removal of the Aborigines from the main island to 
one of the islands in Bass's Straits was contemplated even 
before the appointment of the Capture Parties. The general 
feeling of insecurity prompted the wish for this removal. 


by Google 


Chief Justice Pedder protested vigorously against the pro- 
posed scheme of transportation. He declared it an unchris- 
tian attempt to destroy the whole race ; for once taken from 
their old haunts, he believed they would all die. Sir John 
Pedder, in after years, saw the fulfilment of his prophecy. 

In 1826, the public mind was much excited about the 
question. Some were for entrapping the people, and shipping 
them off to the neighbouring but unsettled shores of Port 
Phillip. Others objected to this on two grounds ; that it would 
be cruel to place them in the way of the barbarous tribes there, 
who would certainly destroy many of them, and that such 
a wretched, sandy, barren country would not furnish them 
with sufficient food. It was then proposed that they be 
shipped to King's Island. 

King's Island, lying half-way between the Cape Otway 
of Victoria and the north-west corner of Tasmania, is thirty 
miles in length and from twelve to fifteen in breadth. That 
it was not improperly called the ** dread of seamen," will 
appear from the account of several fearful shipwrecks. The 
convict ship Neva went ashore there, and out of three 
hundred female prisoners but eight were saved. In 1845 the 
Cataraqui was lost on the south-west coast of the island, 
and only nine of four hundred and twenty-three persons 

The Bishop of Tasmania, whom I heard preach one of his 
most thrilling and eloquent discourses upon the occasion of 
this catastrophe, revisited King's Island several years after, 
and thus refers to that awful night : — " The surgeon was the 
first to perish ; the poor, unhappy girls were tossed into the 
ocean as they were, unclad, unprepared ; the wild, screaming 
death-shriek mingling with the wilder storm." The good 
man walked along the beach, accompanied by the sealer 
who had found the wreck two days after the accident. He 
heard him say, " Yonder I dragged on shore the bodies of 
eighteen poor girls ; some were locked in each other's arms, 
others as tranquil as though asleep, others bent and twisted 
with the most distorted forms; and here I dug their 
grave and buried them." In one place he buried fifty ; in 
another, twenty ; and in a third, two hundred and forty-five 

Such a place, though favourable on account of difficulty 


by Google 


of approach, was not suitable as a home for the Aborigines, 
as it was held of great importance to have them under some 
civilized control. 

The Kent's Group, named after H.M.S. Kent^ presented 
some advantages at first, and were recommended by the 
Aborigines* Committee £is early as December 1st, 1829, 
because of their utter isolation from the Main, and as 
possessing wood, water, mutton-birds, and some game. But 
they were exposed to terrific westerly gales, and were cold 
and wet. 

Cape Barren Island, south of Flinders, was suggested 
by the Committee, on May 26th, 1831, but was also objected 
to ; though twenty miles long, it is a hopeless country. 
Clark Island, ten miles from the Main, and south of Cape 
Barren Island, next rose in favour, but was found by Mr. 
Eobinson without anchorage, water, soil, or food. 

Maria Island was the one most approved by Mr. Eobin- 
son. It possessed charms to alleviate the sorrows of banish- 
ment. It was a lovely spot, abounding in picturesque 
scenery, noble forests, undulating downs, mountain streams, 
and fertile valleys. The soil was known to be remarkably 
adapted to cultivation ; and the Hobart Town philanthropists, 
desirous of the civilization of the scattered ones, hailed the 
proposition with delight. There was something in its aspect 
which would rather suggest the idea of an Isle of Calypso 
than of a St. Helena. When Tasman, the Dutchman, first 
beheld its wooded, hilly shores in 1642, he could think of 
no better appellation for that Isle of Beauty than the name 
of a distant charmer, Maria Van Diemen, the daughter of 
the Batavian Governor. 

But they were not to go to Maria Island. All its attrac- 
tions were admitted, but objections ruled. Though suggested 
by Mr. Eobinson, recommended by the chaplain, and hoped 
for by many, the design was not carried out. Apart from 
the loss in relinquishing the works of the penal settlement 
there, it was contended that the island had no good harbour, 
and that its proximity to the eastern main, three miles, would 
render it no secure encampment, as the natives could readily 
cross the water and renew their distressing ravages. The 
Aborigines* Committee reluctantly disallowed the proposition 
in February 1831. 


by Google 


When, however, the roving parties had collected some of 
the unfortunate Blacks, it became imperative to find an 
asylum, and Swan Island was selected. This lies between 
Clark Island and the mainland of Cape Portland, being only 
three miles from the parent island. It had little in its 
favour, as its water was brackish, its soil most hopeless, and 
its size but a mile and a half in length. At any rate it 
would do for a depot. Mr. Robinson placed twenty-three 
there on November 20th, 1830, and thirty-three more on 
December 1 3th. They were not ainhealthy on this desolate 
granite rock. One little incident occurred there which 
illustrates the melancholy condition of the captives. Among 
them was an intelligent and faithful female who had been 
guide to Mr. Eobinson. When the second party of Blacks 
arrived on the island, the earlier transports were eager to 
learn the fate of their friends. Among the many sad tales 
rehearsed by the new-comers was the intelligence of the 
murder by the Whites of the two brothers of the guide. It 
were vain to picture the harrowing sorrow ofjthe unfortunate 
woman, or to describe her regret at the part she had taken 
with the Mission, and the indignant reproaches she cast 
upon the enemies of her people. 

The limited area of Swan Island soon compelled the 
Government to find another home. Vansittart or Gun 
Carriage Island was then talked of. The supposed re- 
semblance of a hill there to the carriage of a gun procured 
it its name by the sealers. Lying half a mile on the north 
side of Cape Barren Island, and four miles south of Flinders, 
one is at a loss to know why the poor captives were to be 
taken to that miserable little place, which was only half a 
mile broad. It is nearly surrounded by dangerous rocks, 
and the surf rolls with tremendous fury on its granite shore. 
Yet there lay an impediment in the . way. Sealers had 
occupied the only suitable locality, and were living there 
with their families. In those days of despotic irresponsi- 
bility, such difficulties were but as cobwebs in the path. 
Mr. Eobinson had authority to remove the Straitsmen ; and 
he was not accused of refinement in his mode of executing 
the order. They were enjoined to leave immediately, and 
under no pretence to approach the island again. 

Sulkily did these primeval settlers prepare for their 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


departure. In the mean while, the impetuous Mr. Eobin- 
son brought his black charge from Swan Island to the Great 
Dog, a little islet between JFlinders and Gun Carriage. One 
cannot but sympathize with the evicted sealers. Gathering 
up their little property, their goats, their household stuff, 
their children, they put off upon the stormy ocean in their 
whale-boats, to seek another home. The hut, the little 
garden, the potato plot, the scene of so many years' labour 
and pleasure, were deserted, and no compensation was 

The settlement was formed in April 1831, in a little bay 
on the western side of Gun Carriage, and Dr. Maclachlan 
was left in charge of the sixty people. Sergeant Wight was 
ordered there in June, with a small military party, to take 
charge of the stores, to protect the females from ill-treatment, 
to keep off the sealers, and to govern in the absence of Mr. 

It was not long before the utter unsuitability of the 
location became intelligible to all. The unfortunate crea- 
tures, having no motive for exercise — for little game ran 
within those narrow boundaries — used to sit day after day 
on the beach, casting tearful gl^ces across the stormy sea 
towards the mountains of their native land. Those denizens 
of the thicket and the forest, with no maritime tastes, with 
nothing at every turn but the ever-restless, hateful waters, 
pined in their rocky prison. Their ofl&cers were as dissatisfied 
with the dungeon-like residence. Strong representations 
were made as to the wretchedness of the climate, and the 
barrenness of the ground. No means existed for the arrest 
of the terrible home sickness which was carrying off so many 
of the Natives. An Old Hand assured me that they " died 
in the sulks, like so many bears." This was in allusion to 
the Kaola, or tailless opossum, which rarely survives its 
capture, but mopes at its chain, refuses its food, and dies. 

This was the Elysium contemplated by Hobart Town in 
the distance. No kangaroos were there, and the whole 
colony of the place would have perished for want of supplies, 
had not a sealer's boat, laden with potatoes, most providen- 
tially called in for shelter in a storm. 

This second refuge must be abandoned, and that after so 
short a trial. The sealers, whose huts and crops had been 


by Google 


80 cruelly and unnecessarily destroyed, might then return 
to their old quarters. 

Great Island, afterwards called Flinders Island, was 
then to be selected. The island is forty miles long, and 
from twelve to eighteen broad. It rises boldly from the 
sea, and has some prominent mountain ranges. 

The place chosen for the settlement was called The 
Lagoons^ as to the rear of a dreary tea-tree {Melaleuca) 
scrub, nearly bordering the sandy shore, was a salt lagoon, 
or shallow lake. Fresh water was only to be found in the 
hollows of granite rock, or dug for in morasses, or in the 
white sea-sand. 

Is it to be wondered at that the chilling aspect of the 
locality struck to the heart of the simple captives ] Captain 
Bateman and others have described to me the despairing 
look of the people at their new home. A Government sur- 
veyor, engaged on the island at the time of the first arrivals, 
— the party from Giin Carriage, — ^informed me that when 
they saw from shipboard the splendid country which they 
were promised, they betrayed the greatest agitation, gazing 
with strained eyes at the sterile shore, uttering melancholy 
moans, and, with arms hanging beside them, trembling with 
convulsive feeling. They were not reconciled even when, 
upon landing, they found plenty of kangaroos in the interior, 
as the Straits' climate followed them. They were located 
on the south-western side, exposed to the ever-boisterous 
western breeze, unsheltered by forests, and unprotected by 
rising ground near. The winds were violent and cold ; the 
rain and sleet were penetrating and miserable. With their 
health suffering from chills, rheumatism and consumption 
diminished their numbers, and thus added force to their 
forebodings that they were taken there to die. 

Some sheep, which had been presented to the Natives by 
Captain Dixon and other kind settlers, were taken to feed 
upon the barilla, or Salt Bush, of Green Island. 

Old Sergeant Wight reigned on the island. His soldiers 
had been directed to put up some long huts of wattle-and- 
daub (branches and mud), about twenty-five feet long each, 
leaving an entrance at one end, and a hole in the roof to let 
out the smoke of their fires. The Blacks were expected to 
keep those clean. But the commander however fitted to 

M 2 


by Google 


govern military men, was ill able to control the contending 
elements around him. Though sixty-six years of age, it was 
said that he possessed considerable energy, with strength of 
will and passions. 

Difficulties beset him at the outset in the hostility of the 
various tribes. Certain coalitions existed ; but bitter quar- 
rels, proceeding to blows, were of daily occurrence. The 
Ben Lomond aud Big Eiver tribes were at an open issue. 
The Western would side with either, according [to caprice. 
The Cape Grim Mob, the most remote and barbarous of all, 
kept completely aloof from the rest. All was in chaos. The 
Native women went about wholly naked. Indeed, the greatest 
disorder prevailed. To add to their trouble, fresh people 
kept landing, supplies were not flourishing, and the climate 
put all in bad temper. 

A rebellion broke out. The old Sergeant adopted summary 
measures. He enlisted the services of the sealers, who 
mounted guard over the Natives. He seized fifteen of the 
most powerful, or quarrelsome, of the men, and put them 
upon a granite rock in the ocean, without food, water, or 
wood, although he had been directed to employ no restraint. 
Captain Bateman told me that, passing near in the Tamar^ 
he descried the wretched people, and rescued them in an 
almost dying state ; they had been exposed to rough weather, 
without shelter or rations, for five days. Their tale was a 
simple one. .They declared they had been carried off that 
the soldiers might hare no interruption in their criminal 
commerce with the women. 

Mr. Wight's story was that he had discovered a rebellious 
attempt to upset his government, and to murder the Whites. 
He had got up a statement, certified by Eobert Gamble, 
Joseph Mason, and John Straijge, his mark, purporting to 
be the evidence given on the 30th of January, by no less 
distinguished a person than Piucommiuminer, more commonly 
known as WUd Mary, It was as follows : — 

"That Broom-teer-lang-en-er was the first who proposed 
taking the boat away that was on Green Island, belonging 
to the sealers. She, also, stated that Cantityer, her husband, 
meant to have put a fire-stick in the thatch of the hut where 
the surgeon sleeps — that they intended to call at other 
islands, and to take the females from the sealers, as also the 


by Google 


boat belonging to Jobn Smith, and to kill two half-caste 
children belonging to this man — to take this woman also." 

We may smile at this harmless manifestation of the great 
rebellion of Flinders ; but it is certain that the fright did 
good for the Natives, for the Governor immediately de- 
spatched a suitable officer to rule them. This was Lieutenant 
Darling, whose brother afterwards became Governor of 

He was the first Commandant of Flinders. Attached to 
the 63rd Eegiment, he combined the firmness and discipline 
of a military officer, with the intelligence and urbanity of a 
gentleman, and the benevolence and sympathy of a Christian. 
He arrived in March 1832, and immediately adopted such 
measures as tranquillized the minds of the excited savages, 
and disposed them to listen to their first lesson in civilization. 

The primary difficulty was the want of water; this he 
relieved by digging in the Lagoon, and in the white sand of 
the shore. His policy, with respect to the sealers, was very 
decided. He oi'dered their absolute withdrawal from every 
part of the island, and put written notices on posts around 
the coast, warning them, under penalty, from approaching 
the place. 

Now came the humanizing processes. The Commandant, 
by his kind, persuasive manner, succeeded in effecting some 
change in the rough habits of his charge; while, by his 
determined character, he kept the turbulent in check, and 
shielded the gentle and weak. He sought to engage the 
men in employment and the women in domestic cares. His 
solicitude about the elevation of the gins testified to the 
intelligence of his plans. In one of his earliest official com- 
munications, he said : " Good motherly women who could 
instruct the aboriginal women would be very useful." The 
encouragement is indicated in the assertion that " the greatest 
part of the females are young, and are willing and anxious 
to learn." Would that the counsel of this worthy yoimg 
officer had been adopted ! With the means at hand he 
greatly improved the comfort of the captured, and secured 
the approval of Colonel Arthur. 

It was during the period of his excellent government that 
the two Quaker missionaries, Messrs. Backhouse and Walker, 
paid their interesting visit to the island. We have in their 


by Google 


narrative no exhibition of Eousseau sentimentality for 
savages, or Quixotic philanthropy, but the genuine display 
of simple, fervid, Christian feeling, and matter-of-fact, 
practical benevolence. They were certainly disposed to 
look upon the aboriginal side of the picture; but, by the 
very expression of their sympathy, they got a readier access 
to the hearts of the Natives, and a clearer conception of 
their habits and condition. 

They found the settlement removed a dozen miles from 
the Lagoons, to a spot called Civilization Point, or Wyba- 
lenna, the Black MarCs Hoiise, and formerly known to the 
sealers as Pea Jacket Point. There were twenty cottages 
for the Blacks ; but eleven were tenantless. They were of 
wattle and plastered clay, well whitewashed, ivith roofs of 
coarse grass thatch. They were extended in the form of a 
crescent, and placed about a quarter of a mile from the 
encampment of the Whites. There were there forty-seven 
male adults, forty-eight female adults, seven boys, four girls, 
one male little one, and four female children under five 
years. They were not only protected from sealers, but from 
a worse foe — Strong Drink, 

In their published narrative of .their religious visit to the 
Cape Colony, Mauritius, and the Australian colonies, the 
excellent ** Friends" give us a humorous account of a tea- 
party on the island, which affords us an insight into the 
moral and elevating designs of the officer. The surveyor 
there, Mr. Woodward, informed me that every Sunday Mr. 
Darling and the doctor would invite some of the Natives to 
dine with them. On this particular occasion, a singular 
compliment was paid to the benevolent travellers ; for they 
tell us : "A large party of the Native women took tea with 
us at the Commandant's. They conducted themselves in 
a very orderly manner ; and, after washing up the tea-things, 
put them in their places." It would have been gratifying 
to have been present at the party of the Government official 
in his regal state, the two smiling Quaker gentlemen, and 
the ebon fair ones. One wonders what they talked about. 
If among themselves, over the scandal cup, the ladies might 
have been traducing the character of their absent lords, 
showing some waddy marks upon the skull, or detailing 
slights to one and favours to another. But before three 


by Google 


such gentlemen, and in the palace of Flinders too, they must 
have "conducted themselves in a very orderly manner." It 
is not usual, however, to invite company, and then to leave 
them to wash up. 

A formal Eeport of this visit was made to the Governor, 
at his request. From this a few extracts are here presented. 
''Little," said they, "can he said of the religious state of 
the establishment.'* The good men had little belief in the 
machinery of religion, and even doubted the efficacy of 
knowing the Catechism and prayers by rote. One point of 
improvement they notice: — "Nearly the whole of them are 
associated as married couples. No marriage ceremony is 
used among them ; but when the parties agree to be united, 
they are thenceforth recognized as husband and wife, and 
are not allowed to change." 

The moral work attracted much of their attention, and the 
Friends dilate upon it satisfactorily. " The Catechist," they 
write, **has taken great pains to inform the Aborigines of 
the existence and character of the Deity, and most of them 
now have some idea of these important truths. He has 
translated into one of the dialects a large portion of the first 
three chapters of Genesis. The natives are daily instructed 
either in the house of the Catechist or in their own huts, 
amid the interruptions to which both of these places are 

Anyhow, sufficient was seen to satisfy one that the civiliz- 
ing agencies were at work under Lieutenant Darling, and not 
commenced, as supposed, under Mr. Eobinson two years 
after. Appended to the Eeport were certain suggestions for 
the good of the people. They recommended a further supply 
of cows, of shoes for wet weather, of boxes for clothing, and 
of stools for seats. They urged the erection of a church or 
school-house, and thought the women should be provided 
with checked cotton bed-gowns, stuff petticoats, checked 
aprons, and neckerchiefs. 

Dr. Eoss, the editor of the Courier, wished to see the 
sunny side of the Flinders' experiment, and dilated upon the 
happiness and security enjoyed by the favoured ones there. 
The Eev. Dr. Lang, of Sydney, took up his Hobart Town 
press friend rather smartly : — " Happiness and security, Dr. 
Ross ! The security of death you mean ! — the happiness of 


by Google 


leaving their unburied bones to be bleached by the sun and 
rain in every nook and dell of that island, where they fell, 
nnpitied, by the bullets of Europeans ! In thirty years — 
the period which it required, under the iron rod of Spain, to 
exterminate all the native inhabitants of Hispaniola — the 
numerous tribes into which the Aborigines of Van Diemen's 
Land were divided have been reduced, under the mild sioay 
of Britain, to 118 souls, imprisoned on an island in Bass's 
Strait ! May the Lord long preserve this miserable remnant 
of a race so nearly extinct ! " 

In 1834, Mr. Henry Nickolls was appointed Superin- 
tendent, at 182Z. 105. salary; Mr, Eobert Clark, Catechist, at 
120Z. ; Mr. Loftus Dickerson, Store-keeper; and Mr. Allen 
(who subsequently married a daughter of Mr. Eobinson's), 
the Surgeon of the establishment. In that year there were 
not less than 30 Whites to look after the 120 Blacks. 

It is evident that Governor Arthur did not feel satisfied 
with his prisoners being kept in the Straits ; for he made a 
proposition to the Home Government to let them loose on 
the southern shore of the continent of New Holland, on the 
site of the present colonies of Victoria and South Australia, 
founded directly after the suggestion made by Colonel Arthur. 
The Secretary for the Colonies, Lord Glenelg, objected on 
humane grounds. Varying his scheme, we find the Governor 
next proposing that Mr. Eobinson, who had just brought 
in his last party of wanderers, should proceed to that opposite 
coast, with some of the Flinders Island Aborigines, to civilize 
the wild Australian Blacks. That idea being abandoned, he 
resolved to send Mr. Eobinson to take charge of the island 
prison. He took command in November 1835. With his 
accustomed energy, he threw himself into the work of 
reformation, and quickly revived the spirits of the decaying 

In 1861, reviewing the past, Mr. Eobinson said: — "I 
established at Flinders Island an Aboriginal Fund, which 
was raised from the proceeds of work performed, and the 
sale of various articles prepared by them; such as salted 
mutton-birds, birds' skins, &c. — ^which were generally sold 
at Launceston. I also formed an Aboriginal Police, to 
preserve order, and to decide all disagreements which might 
arise among them. I also established a circulating medium 


by Google 

Robinson's reports on flinders. 169 

amongst them, which was attended with the happiest efifects, 
as it gave them a knowledge of the rights of property ; and 
lastly and consequent upon the latter, I established a market, 
to which they brought their produce. Thus they acquired 
the habits of civilized life, and felt an interest in the acqui- 
sition of property, which rendered them industrious and 

Dr. Eoss intimated, in his Courier of October 8th, 1836, 
that "Mr. Eobinson has been the means of establishing a 
weekly newspaper among them. It is entirely written by 
the Aborigines, and is published under the name of the 
Aboriginal Flinders Island Chronicle, on half a sheet of 
foolscap, every Saturday, price twopence each, and the profits 
arising from the work are equally divided among the editors." 
Concerning this, the subsequent Superintendent, Dr. Jean- 
neret, wrote to me : — " I have no knowledge of the newspaper 
you refey to. None, in my time, were capable of such a 

We cannot pause in this glorious career of civilization, and 
again introduce Mr. Eobinson as the speaker : — 

" At the periodical examination of the schools, some of the 
native youths were able to answer questions in the leading 
events of Scripture history, Christian doctrine and duty, 
arithmetic, the principal facts of geography, and also on 
several .points of useful information. Some very fair speci- 
mens of handwriting were exhibited on such occasions ; one, 
in particular, was worthy of notice, being an original address 
from the writer — a native youth of fifteen years of age, who 
was employed by me in my ofi&ce — to his countrymen. It 
was expressed in simple and tolerably correct language, and 
breathed a warm spirit of gratitude to myself. In the schools 
they were taught various handiwork, such as knitting in 
worsted, sewing, &c. ; and they proved to be apt and 
industrious scholars." In his Progress Eeport, dated May 
17th, 1837, he wrote: "The schools and religious services 
are still maintained, and the Natives are constant and regular 
in their attendance. They are rapidly acquiring industrious 
habits. The settlement is in a very powerful, tranquil 

What more could be wanted 1 It was an age of steam. 
Flinders rose at once, under Mr. Eobinson, to its highest 


by Google 


development, like Athens, under Pericles ; and it sank more 
rapidly into barbarism upon the departure of its master. A 
little must be placed to that love of " high talk " which ever 
accompanied the declarations of the Commandant. 

The last passage of the celebrated Sydney speech is a painful 
commentary upon this work of progress : " The only drawback 
on the establishment was the great mortality amongst them.*' 
But even then his exultant spirit hopefully cries : — ** Eut those 
who did survive were now happy, contented, and useful 
members of society.'* In 1861 he saw the non-fulfilment of 
his prophecy. This is his remarkable expression : — 

** The most serious drawback to the success of the establish- 
ment was the great mortality among them, which has con- 
tinued to so lamentable an extent, that at t^ie present time 
there are but a small remnant living. Had the poor creatures 
survived to have become a numerous people, I am convinced 
they would have formed a contented and useful community." 

Alas ! it is the story of the Frenchman's horse, that died 
just when he had acquired the power of living without eating. 
In the process of regeneration they lost the life they had. 
Even the Committee of the Aborigines* Society were at last 
sensible of the folly of this over-legislation; for, in their 
Report for 1839, they regretted that " from the first a system 
had not been applied more suitable to the habits of a roving 
people, instead of the highly artificial one whose details have 
been referred to ** (in Mr. Robinson's report). 

The more civilized they became, the more dependent were 
the Blacks upon their masters for supplies, and the less dis- 
posed were they to exert themselves. Listless and good, they 
wanted energy to pursue the bounding kangaroo, or clamber 
after an opossum. In Mr. Robinson's letter, March 8th, 
1836, we have this announcement: "It has been intimated 
to the Natives that they are shortly to be supplied with fresh 
meat, which intelligence affords them much pleasure." It 
would, certainly ; though it doubtless puzzled their unarith- 
metical heads what became of the several hundreds of sheep 
given to them by settlers in 1833, and increasing on Green 
Island. Besides, the (government had sent cattle and more 
sheep. Just before the receipt of the Commandant's letter, 
three hundred breeding sheep and ten cows were forwarded. 
And yet not once in six months did the Blacks eat of their 


by Google 



own mutton 1 Some other people preferred fresh meat to 
salted rations. In 1838 there were still 1800 sheep and 62 
head of cattle, professedly belonging to the Natives. 

Among the singular crotchets of Mr. Eobinson's was that 
one of altering the names of the Natives. This was suffi- 
ciently absurd. The two names of some of the males will 
strike the reader. Being there with a host of white servants 
who could not catch the long and liquid words of the Native 
tongue, it might seem necessary to make a change, but hardly 
to form so absurd a catalogue as he did. It would be interest- 
ing to know whose philological and literary assistance he ob- 
tained ; some one of his convict servants might have been an 
M.A. But he evidently imagined he had performed an im- 
portant and useful service, making it the subject of a special 
report on September 14th, 1836. He presented two lists — 
his own nomenclature, classical and grand; and beside it, 
the aboriginal, or the absurd English, name. These were 
some of the males : — 





Long Billy 
Big Jemmy 

( MouUchelar- 

\ gene 
Little Jacky 

j Big Mary* 8 

King George 







William Kobinson 


Walter George ) 


Old Tom 


Hose's Jemmy 


Kangaroo Billy 






Among the double names of the females were, — 

Qneen Adelaide l^-^'' 

Queen ATidToma.c)ieLarrentong 
Agnes Blind Poll 

Princess Clara Teddeburric 
Princess Cleopatra Kyenrope 
Queen Elizabeth Big Bet 
Juliet John 

Jemima Cranky Poll 

Princess Lalla 



\ TrtLgenanna 


Lock Jaw Poll 

The following is a list of some of the names of the men on 
the island in 1834. They are given as spelt in the original 
document, as Mr. Robinson would also spell them, though 


by Google 


subsequently changes have been made — as a for er. There 
were Worethetitatilargener and Moullteerlargener, chiefs of 
the Ben Lomond tribe ; Calamaroweyne, the supposed mur- 
derer of Captain Thomas ; Marenerlarger, Teelapana, Walentir- 
loona, Panacoona, Wo wee, Mackamee, Paropa, Nicamenie, 
Tymethie, Preropa, Pyntharyne, Toinchonc, Peey, Boobyin- 
thie, Toindeburic, Eowlapana, Toby Langta, Lamaima, Cona- 
panny, Packabanny, Wymeric. Three of them, who all died 
in one fortnight, were husbands of Wild Mary. 

Because of the difference of dialects, there naturally grew 
upon the island a sort of Lingua Franca, — a commingling 
of tongues. Native and English. There was a difficulty in 
pronouncing our d and 8, 

The man who entered most into the feelings and sympathies 
of the Aborigines of Flinders, was the well-known catechist, 
Mr. Eobert Clark — the Father Clark of the Natives. 

My first acquaintance with this devoted man was in the 
beginning of 1842, when he brought to my house several of 
his juvenile pupils, well clothed, with smiling faces, and who 
read to me, with correct intonation, several verses from the 
New Testament. They looked up to him with the same filial 
regard which his own children felt for him. 

Appointed to his position of schoolmaster and catechist in 
1834, he, for a little time, gave place to the Eev. T. Dove, 
Presbyterian clergyman, and assumed a secular office, without 
diminishing his efforts for the moral good of his dark-coloured 
friends. He was ultimately obliged to resign, from the adop- 
tion of schemes he considered opposed to the welfare of the 
Aborigines. On his coming to Hobart Town, I became 
intimately acquainted with him, and attached to his person. 
After a year or two, to the joy of his old friends, he was 
restored to his situation as catechist, which he retained until 
his departure for a better world, in 1850. Often have I 
listened with deep emotion to his sad stories of the sufferings 
of his charge, while his tremulous voice and moistened eyes 
declared the depth and sincerity of his sympathy. 

He gained the confidence of all. He would sit down on 
the ground with the men, and smoke his pipe with them, 
while listening to their yarns of hunting and war, when he 
would appeal to them, in their own soft tones, about Him 
who loved the dark-skinned race, and yearned over them for 


by Google 


good. "With the gins he was ever a favourite ; haviog the 
ready kind word and smile for each, with a bit of ribbon for 
one, a piece of tobacco for another, a joke for a third, and 
good counsel for all. Mrs. Clark was a helpmate to her 
husband, and their children were schoolmates and playmates 
with the Natives. 

It was of him that Mr. Robinson wrote on the 2nd of May ; 
— ** I have found him a faithful, zealous, and efficient officer, 
amply qualified for the duties he had to perform, and one 
willing to render services that had for their object the amelior- 
ation and improvement of the Natives .'* He added a word, 
also, for Mrs. Clark : — " She has been instrumental in initiating 
the female Aborigines in the first principles of the Christian 
religion. The marked results attendant thereupon have been 
mainly attributed to her personal exertions." Captain Stokes, 
the explorer, when visiting Flinders in 1842, refers to the 
lasting effects produced by Mr. Clark upon the Aborigines, 
" for whom,'* he says, " they all continue to feel great vener- 
ation, and to exhibit that re^spect which is due to a parent." 
Elsewhere he remarks : — " We heard all the Natives of both 
sexes, old and young, sing several hymns taught them by this 
excellent person." 

Mr. Dove, though without the susceptible and genial nature 
of my Irish friend, was an earnest, faithful man. He was 
better fitted for the charge at Swanport, to which he retired, 
and where he resided for many years. 

I have a manuscript book, presented to me by the widow 
of the venerated Eev. Frederick Miller, of Hobart Town, 
which had been prepared by my old friend Mr. Robert Clark, 
giving full particulars of an examination held in February 
1838, when the Rev. T. Dove, chaplain, presided, and Mr. 
George Augustus Robinson, Mr. Dickenson, storekeeper, and 
Dr. Walsh, were spectators. 

Young Mr. WiUiam Robinson's class first came forward, 
under the monitorship of Thomas Thompson, and consisting 
of the following remarkable characters : — Isaac, Edward, 
Washington, Albert, and Leonidas. Edward is pronounced 
imperfect in the alphabet, and goes down. Washington 
attempts to spell ; but brave Leonidas, more ambitious, makes 
a trial of reading from the spelling-book. Leonidas, the hero 
of the class, repeats the Lord's Prayer, the Collect, the names 


by Google 


of the months and days of the week, in addition to counting . 
up to one hundred. 

In Mr. Charles Eobinson's class, Neptune attempts to read, 
and Peter Pindar is pronounced perfect in the alphabet. 
Neptune is fluent upon early Scripture history, and his creed 
may be taken as the orthodox of the period. A few of the 
questions are appended : — 

"What will God do to this worid by and by 1"— " Bum 

" What did God make us fori " — ^* His own purpose." 

" Who are in heaven 1 " — " God, angels, good men, and 
Jesus Christ." 

" What sort of a country is heaven 1 " — " A fine place." 

** What sort of a place is hell? " — *' A place of torment." 

" What do you mean by a * place of torment ' 1 " — " Burn- 
ing for ever and ever." 

" What is the seventh day called ] "— " Sunday." (1) 

"What do you love God for]" — ** God gives me every- 

Though apt in the general catechism, he fails to count 
beyond ten. His memory was not mathematical 

Bonaparte answered eight questions, and appeared to have 
a more decided and satisfactory faith than the Emperor. 
Being asked, " Do you like God 1 " he pi-omptly answered, 

The boys' class taught by the catechist formed, of course, 
the prominent feature of the examination. Bruni, Thompson, 
and Walter could read, write, and even cipher a little. The 
two first died soon afterwards. The last was subsequently 
known to me. He was far above the average of the Abori- 
gines. He could converse with intelligence, and reason with 
ability. I saw his Bible on the side-table, when I took tea 
with him and his wife, in their own neat little hut. 

I regret to say that the report of female progress, though 
brief, is not commendatory : " Clara reads — Daphne attempts 
to read — Emma attempts to read — Rose attempts to spell — 
Sophia attempts to spell — Sabina imperfect in the alphabet 
— Henrietta imperfect in the alphabet — Lucy imperfect in 
the alphabet — and Wild Mary imperfect in the alphabet." It 
may be presumed that Wild Mary was a step above Queen 
Adelaide, as that lady, though present, did not enter the lists. 


by Google 


My particular friend, Lalla Rookh or Truganina, was not 
examined in literature. 

The senior women's class, under Mrs. Clark, distinguished 
themselves. Bessy reads the whole of No. 1 Spelling-book. 
Patty attempts to read. Paulina spells words of three 
letters. Juliet reads four easy pages. Semiramis knows her 
English letters — a feat beyond the powers of the Assyrian 

A crowd of sovereigns appeared on the following day. 
The truth must be told that they least distinguished them- 
selves. King Alfred, however, was perfect in his alphabet, 
and could tell who made him. King George knew the first 
man, and who made the trees and tall mountain, but was 
not troubled with more questions. King Alpha was content 
with playing ditto to his royal brother George, and said that 
God made the tall mountain. But Napoleon rushed boldly 
forth to the front, with ready replies, after attempting to 
spell. It is very unsatisfactory, however, to quote a remark 
upon this conqueror : " This native attends school but very 
seldom, and is not improving. Mr. Dov^ddress^d him very 
feelingly on his neglect of instruction." Poor fellow ! he 
lived but little time to profit by the White man's teaching. 

The history of the last few years of Flinders is soon told. 
It is chiefly the story of death. Captain Stokes found that, 
of 200 that had been captured, 150 had perished. Governor 
Arthur wrote home, on January 27th, 1836, deploring the 
rapid decline, and adding, " Their number has been reduced 
to only 100." To save the younger ones, fourteen were sent 
from the island to the Orphan School of Hobart Town. One 
of the earliest victims was Mungo, the guide to the parties of 
Messrs. Eobertson, Jorgenson, and Batman. Poor Manala- 
gana, the' noble chief, died in March 1836. Dr. Story 
gives it as his opinion to me, that "the deaths at Flinders 
Island and the attempt at civilizing the Natives were 
consequent on each other." 

No wonder that Mr. Eobinson was anxious to remove the 
people from the island, when he was appointed Protector in 
Port Phillip, and that his suggestion was received with accla- 
mation by the pent-up islanders. A petition, signed by the 
twenty-nine living men, was addressed to Governor Sir John 
Franklin, on Aug. 12th, 1838, begging for translation to 


by Google 


Port Phillip. His Excellency's heart was moved, and he 
directed Mr. Montague, then Colonial Secretary, to open up 
a correspondence with the Government of New South Wales 
about their reception. Some opposition being presented, the 
question was referred home, when Lord Glenelg objected to 
their removal. 

After the departure of Mr. Eobinson, and the failure of 
their hopes of transmission to Port Phillip, the Aborigines 
sank into an apathy from which they never emerged. 
Captain Smith officiated for a time, and then Mr. Fisher ; 
but Dr. Jeanneret received the appointment of Superintendent 
in 1842, at the hands of Governor Sir John Franklin, who, 
like his benevolent and learned lady, was ever interested in 
the condition of the Blacks. 

Dr. Jeanneret was virtually the last Superintendent of 
Flinders Island. He remained to see the embarkation of the 
Natives under his successor. Dr. Milligan, all bound for 
Oyster Cove, in D*Entrecasteaux Channel. 

After the departure of the people, the island was let with 
the stock to Captain Smith, at a rental of lOOL a year. The 
Bishop in 1854 thus moralized over the past : ** Nearly eleven 
years have passed since I landed on the self-same rocks with 
Sir John Franklin. How changed the scene ! Then, the 
beach was covered with the Aborigines, who greeted their 
kind and loved benefactor with yells of delight ; capering 
and gesticulating with movements more indicative of exuber- 
ant, wild joy, than of elegance or propriety. Now all this is 
still. It was painful to witness the scene of ruin in the once 
neat and well-ordered settlement. Desolation stared me in 
the face, wherever the eye was turned : the comfortable 
house of the Superintendent rapidly falling to decay; the 
gardens well-nigh rooted up ; the range of buildings in which 
the Aborigines were formerly hutted, imtenanted, broken, 
and tumbling down." 

Such is the last sad scene of the Flinders' drama. Since 
the departure of the Aborigines, I have passed by the island 
some half-a-dozen times. As I last gazed upon its storm- 
torn coast, and my eyes rested upon its bleak and fantastic 
hills, the whole story, in all its varied and stirring phases, 
came before me, and I felt quickened in my resolution to tell 
my countrymen the sorrows of the Tasmanians. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

{Photographed by Dr. Nixou, Lord Bishop of .Tasmania.) 


by Google 



The terrible mortality of the Natives on Flinders Island 
excited the sympathy of their friends in Hobart Town. 
Several times had Mr. George "Washington Walker and I 
conversed upon the subject, and wished that the remnant 
could be brought nearer town. We knew that this was the 
desire of the Blacks themselves, who said if they could only 
live in their own country again, they would all be healthy 
and happy. One Hobart Town paper had a violent leader 
upon the subject, expatiating upon the outrages of 1831, and 
predicting a bloody renewal of them, should the Natives be 
allowed to leave the Flinders' asylum. As if twelve men, 
the number then alive, could light up the fires of country 
homesteads, and resume the spear of slaughter, in a colony of 
eighty thousand Whites ! 

The Natives obtained their wish. In October 1847, forty- 
four of the Tasmanian race were removed from Flinders 
Island to Oyster Cove. There were twelve men, twenty-two 
women, and ten children, or non-adults. Some of these, the 
latter particularly, were half-castes. The boys ranged from 
the age of four to fourteen years ; the girls, from seven to 
thirteen. When Mr. Clark wrote to me in August 1849, he 
had then with him but one child, six others being placed at 
the Orphan School — to die. 

Oyster Cove is but a few miles' distance from Hobart 
Town. At the junction of the Derwent with the ocean, the 
Storm Bay opens to the south-east, and the narrow D'Entre- 
casteaux Channel to the south-west; these waters being 
separated by Bruni Island. The first little harbour in this 
channel, after crossing the mouth of North-west Bay, is 
Oyster Cove. 

For a time the new settlement prospered, or seemed to 
prosper. Mr. Clark wrote to me cheerfully : ** They are now 
comfortable," said he ; " have a full supply of provisions ; are 
able to till their gardens, sow peas, beans, and potatoes; 
anxious to earn money, of which they know to a certain 
extent the value. They are thankful to the Lieutenant- 
Governor and the Colonial Secretary for removing them from 
Flinders Island, and to Dr. Milligan for all the trouble he 


by Google 


has taken. The women can all make their own clothes, and 
cook their food by either boiling or roasting. Their houses 
are comfortable and clean. They are as contented as possible." 
So far this is all satisfactory. 

But at the end of 1854, there remained of the original 
forty-four, only three men, eleven women, and two boys at 
the station. Yet the colonists found themselves charged with 
a formidable bill for the establishment that was rent free, 
for the expenses that year stood at 2006Z. Ss, Sd. 

When I visited Oyster Cove in 1859, a sad spectacle met 
my eyes. I simply now record what I stated to Dr. Nixon, 
Bishop of Tasmania, on my return to Hobart Town. I went 
to him, knowing him to be really interested in the Aborigines, 
and aware that a long and painful illness, which subsequently 
led to his resignation of the episcopate, had prevented his 
attention to their claims. Blame might naturally be attached 
to somebody. The blight had fallen upon the Natives, and 
produced the disorders, doubtless, which appeared in their 
midst. Mr. Dandridge, located with them, seemed kindly 
disposed toward them, but evidently regarded himself as a 
sort of ration-distributor only, being, as he told me himself, 
convinced that he could do nothing to arrest their progress to 
the grave. He and his wife were then keeping a school for 
the children of the farmers and labourers outside of the 
Keserve. Instruction was considered hopeless for the Blacks, 
But might not a little more have been done 1 

I saw a miserable collection of huts and out-buildings, the 
ruins of the old penal establishment, profoundly dirty, and 
swarming with fleas, as I found to my cost. The Superintend- 
ent could not clean all the places himself ; he had no man- 
servant, and the Blacks had no inclination to do the work. 
So it was not done. The buildings formed the sides of a 
square, enclosing a large courtyard. The officer's family were 
not luxuriously housed. The Natives were in several con- 
tiguous huts or offices. The earthen floor of these was in a 
sad state. Some had parts of wooden planking remaining. 
The sides of the huts were in a ruinous condition. The roofs 
were not all waterproof. Many of the windows were broken, 
and the doors of some closed imperfectly. The furniture was 
gone. Here and there a stool was seen, or a log, though the 
women preferred squatting on the ground or floor, and that 


by Google 


not always in the most decent attitude. The apology for 
bedsteads and heds was the most deplorable of all. I turned 
round to the Superintendent, and expressed my concern at 
the frightfully filthy state of the bedclothes. In some places 
I noticed but one blanket as the only article on the shelf, 
and remarked the insufficiency of bedclo thing for old people, 
and at that cold season of the year. Mr. Dandridge appeared 
as surprised as chagrined, and, calling the women, commanded 
them to tell where all the blankets had gone to. One of 
them quite coolly answered : "Bad white fellow — him steal 
'em all.*' The Superintendent's explanation was, that they 
were so given up to drink as to sell for liquor the Govern- 
ment blankets, and even their very clothing, to the low 
population about. But could no protection have been 
afforded them 1 

The gardens, so praised by Mr. Clark, had all gone. 
There . was no sign of reading in those wretched abodes. 
The cooking was managed, apparently, by boiling, judging 
by the big round pot I saw in each hut, and generally 
in tbe middle of the floor. Several times I saw the dogs 
licking out the vessel, for both brutes and human beings 
seemed to have common bed and board. The weekly rations 
then were 14 lbs. meat, 10 lbs. flour, 3 ozs. tea, 14 ozs. sugar, 
3 ozs. soap, 2 ozs. salt, and 3 ozs. tobacco. For clothing, an 
allowance of blue serge, 3| yds. by 1|, was made, which 
they rudely made into a loose garment. A flannel petticoat, 
red cap, handkerchief, comforter, cotton frock and jumper, 
were supposed to be provided, and some I saw in stock at 
the store. Handkerchiefs, at any rate, were not required, 
judging from appearances. When expecting company, they 
were decked out suitably. Calico for chemises was once 
issued, and, doubtless, made up by some of them in olden 
days. The polka jacket was gaily got up, though only worn 
on festive occasions. When I made a remark as to the 
paucity of clothes, and their miserable appearance in such 
weather, there was the repetition of the complaint of their 
selling for drink the dresses, even though all had been 
stamped with the Government mark. 

In the time of Governor Denison they were happier, 
according to their own account, as that gentleman often 
paid them a visit, bringing some of his family with him, 

N 2 


by Google 


and having a packet of toys, marbles and balls. He would 
spread out the treasure, join in their games, play even at 
leapfrog with them, and finish off with merry laughter and 
good feed. Lady Denison woidd sometimes ride down with 
a party of ladies, and bring a lot of them up to town in cabs 
for a change. His Excellency had sent down a stage-coach 
to fetch some to Government House for a dinner, and after- 
wards give them a laugh at the theatre. Dr. Nixon, the 
learned and kind-hearted bishop, often paid them a visit, 
giving them ghostly counsel, but never omitting, according 
to their version, to bring them some tucker, A basket of 
apples, and a genial smile, brought attentive listeners to his 
devotional exercises. The removal of the Governor, and 
the lengthened indisposition of the Bishop, had darkened 
their latter days. 

They spoke freely of their friends, but could not forbear 
a word about the past Black War and its troubles. The 
" bad white fellows " often came up in their talk. The 
" bad white fellows '' haunted them still, stealing their 
clothes, and making them drunk. Little or no restraint 
was laid upon their movements. No fence enclosed their 
ground, and the wide Bush was theirs for wanderings. 
Occasionally they indulged in a ramble for days, and re- 
turned improved in health by their absence. The diseases 
troubling them were those arising frpm neglected colds. I 
was taken to a bit of ground enclosed by Walter, which was 
the cemetery of the departed. There was nothing romantic 
about it, though much that was painfully suggestive. 

The moral condition of the station was the subject of 
indignant complaint from Maryann, the half-caste wife of 
Walter : " We had souls in Flinders," said she, " but we 
have none here. There we were looked after, and the bad 
Whites were kept from annoying us. Here we are thrown 
upon the scum of society. They have brought us among 
the offscouring of the earth (alluding to the convict popula- 
tion about). Here are bad of all sorts. We should be a 
great deal better if some one would read and pray to us. 
We are tempted to drink, and all bad practices, but there 
is neither reading nor prayer. While they give us food for 
the body, they might give us food for the soul. They might 
think of the remnant of us poor creatures, and make us 


by Google 


happy. Nobody cares for us." These are the expressions 
I find recorded in my note-book. 

Mr. Dandridge informed me that the Bishop had made 
some provision for their religious instruction, by requesting 
a neighbouring clergyman to give them an occasional service. 
But the gentleman was unpopular ; and whenever his horse 
was seen on the hill, it was a signal for general dispersion. 
There being no congregation, the service was not held. 

It was from Maryann that I obtained an account of the 
last hours of my friend Eobert Clark. 

Removing from Flinders Island, with his beloved Blacks, 
he hoped to spend some happy years with them at Oyster 
Cove, and enjoy some of the sweets of Christian fellowship, 
as he said, by being only a few miles from Hobart Town. 
His kind-hearted wife, whose benevolent exertions for the 
good of the 'Aborigines were so appreciated by Mr. Robinson, 
was pleased with the prospect of removal, not merely because 
she hoped it would be for the happiness of her dark charge, 
but from a mother's natural anxiety about her own large family, 
whom she wished to see placed once more with the civilized 

He arrived with sanguine expectations. He had forty-five 
Natives remaining. He would do his best for them. He 
would get gentlemen of Hobart Town interested in their 
welfare. He would ask friends to visit them. He would 
have books, pictures, toys, and other amusements. He 
would excite their ardour to raise provisions for the Hobart 
Town market. He would establish them in a good dairy 
farm. He would make them live on the fat of the land, 
and save money beside. He would so employ them, so keep 
them interested, that they should not die at that terrible 
rate they had died in the Straits. He would live long as 
the father of a happy family. 

Alas ! there could be no arrest of the fatal disease. They 
still sickened and died. The rest began to lose heart. They 
had believed their decline caused by the climate and confine- 
ment of Flinders Island, and were so sure that they could 
not die so in the new home on their own native land. When 
they discovered the delusion, they were chilled and disheart- 
ened. Yes — they were to die — they must die — they would 
all die soon. Then why should they till the ground 1 For 


by Google 


whom would the potatoes be grown ? What would be the 
use of a dairy ? Why need they trouble about dress — they, 
the dying ones 1 Pictures lost their interest. Books were 
left unopened, or looked at with glazed eyes. They read 
their fate. In such a mood they cared for nothing. They 
lost interest in all about them. Everything seemed to re- 
mind them of their end. Was it strange, then, that when 
temptation came near they felll When the drink was 
brought secretly, was it strange that they took it as the 
Aryans their divine Soma, the drink of the gods, the reliever 
of sorrow, the life-giver, the joy-friend ? 

Mr. Clark was spared the grief of seeing the worst. His 
wife's health was affected by the ill-conditioned quarters 
allotted to her family. She was removed to Hobart Town 
for a change, and died there. Her tender-hearted husband 
returned to Oyster Cove a changed man. He had lost a 
partner indeed. He strove at first to forget the past, and 
live for his future. But his future had been bound up with 
the life of his wife, and the life of his Natives. The first 
had gone, the second was going. Why should he stay 1 In 
a few weeks the melancholy of the Aborigines seemed to 
fall heavily upon him. He took to his bed of death. 

At this stage of the story, Maryann pointed to a ruined 
hut near which we had walked. It was of slab timber, 
roughly hewn, and roughly placed, but now falling to decay. 
The paling sides had gaped open. The brick-nogged enclo- 
sure had given way. The windows and doors had been 
stolen. A luxuriant Macquarie Harbour vine had spread 
itself over the roof, seeking, but in vain, to bind the ruin 
together. Native flowers crept into the vine, sheltering their 
weak stems beneath the strong and hardy climber. "Here," 
said my weeping companion, " here poor Father died." 

After a little silence, the sad story was resumed. ** I 
attended him,** said she, " along with his daughter, night 
and day. But all the people wanted to do something for 
him, for all so loved him. And then he would talk to us, 
and pray with us. He would tell me what to read to him 
from the Bible, when too weak to hold the book himself. 
How be would talk to us ! When he thought he was going 
to die, he got the room full, and bade us * Good-bye.' He 
held up his hands and prayed for us. He did love us. 


by Google 


And then lie said, while he was crying, * Mind you be sure 
and all meet me in heaven ! ' " 

The poor creature could not tell me any more, but fairly 
sobbed aloud. I tried to comfort her, saying that God had 
kindly allowed him to go to his wife in heaven, and to the 
good Blacks who had died before him, and who would be 
so glad to see her there. If only Walter and she would 
keep his counsels, they might yet see him again. She shook 
her head, and mournfully, and yet with bitterness, replied, 
" No one cares for the Natives' souls now that Father Clark 
is gone.*' 

And now she has gone, and Walter has gone, and the 
Blacks have all gone. Father Clark had gone to his rest 
before such blighting sorrow came. It is good to read of 
such a man as he. It is a relief to the harshness and 
selfishness of life to know such a man as he. It would be 
a blessing to the world if more would live his life and die 
his death, even should clouds dim the horizon of hope. 

I proceed now with a brief notice of the Natives on the 
station at my visit in 1859. 

Old Sophia, then apparently over sixty years of age, had 
white hair, and the most monkey-like face I ever saw upon 
a human being. The recession of the lower jaw and the 
low cast of countenance denoted an inferior physique. She 
was born on Bruni Island, and had given birth to two 
children. A troop of mangy dogs accompanied their aged 
mistress, who held forth long harangues to the curs, that 
answered in snapping barks of recognition. Two of them 
lay in her wretched bed with her, to keep her back warm, 
as she told me. 

Eagged Wapperty was not a desirable-looking old lady. 
Her country was near Patrick's Head, to the north-east. Her 
native name was known formerly as Woonoteah coota mena 
— Thunder and lightning. There was nothing brilliant about 
her then. Her countrywoman Flora seemed about forty to 
forty-five years old. Her mouth was the most demonstrative 
part of her person. As I was being shown through the store 
by the Superintendent, and receiving explanation of the 
dresses worn by the ladies. Flora appeared at the door. She 
was called in to give me an illustration of the charms of a 
holiday attire, such as may be seen in the photograph taken 


by Google 


by the Bishop of Tasmania. Without a judicious regard 
for the proprieties, or from an antiquated piece of coquetry, 
she suddenly untied a string, and let fall to the ground her 
only serge garment. Then she proceeded leisurely to enrobe 
herself in the finery, and was evidently gratified at my 
expressed satisfaction. 

Patty, alias Cooneana, .the Ring-tailed- Opossum, might 
have been from fifty to fifty-five ; though, in the account of 
her death at the Hobart Town Hospital, in July 1867, she 
was said to be seventy. She left but two women behind 
her. She was the wife of Leonidas, of whose literary 
acquirements notice is given in the chapter on * Flinders 
Island. Patty belonged to the Kangaroo Point tribe, of the 
Derwent. Her distinguishing feature was a very broad nose. 
Emma, rather younger than Patty, was of the Patrick Head 
tribe, and had been married to Albert. Caroline, commonly 
called Queen Caroline, was the relict of the renowned chief- 
tain of the Big River Natives, Eoumetewah, or' the Wombat. 
Her native name was Ganganinnanah. She appeared one of 
the most aged among the party, and sat away from the others 
crying in an imbecile manner. The Coal River tribe had 
been her childhood's friends. 

Bessy Clark, called after the wife of the Catechist, was 
then under forty years of age, and was the best-looking of 
the sisterhood. There was no recession of the lower jaw, 
and her good-humour gave a pleasant expression to her 
swarthy features. Her native name was Pinnano bathsB, 
the Kangaroo head.. She had not led a forest life with 
her people, having been rescued in early childhood. When 
Mr. G. A. Robinson was out with his son and others seeking 
after the Macquarie Harbour tribe, a family was disturbed 
at their roaring fire so suddenly, that a mother in her fright 
forgot her little girl whom she had left near the warm 
embers. The deserted infant was placed on the back of 
young Robinson, and ultimately confided to the care of a 
country-woman on Flinders Island. When old enough, she 
was sent for education and training to the Orphan School 
at Newtown, near Hobart Town. It was thought she would 
there be removed from the temptations of aboriginal life. 
Subsequently she was removed to Flinders, and married to 
Augustus the Magnificent. 


by Google 

{Photographed by Mr. C. Woolley, 1866.) 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 


This lady indulged me with full particulars of her courting 
days. " He," said she (meaiiing Augustus), " tell me plenty 
times he love me, then he make love, then he ask me be his 
wife. I tell him go ask Father (Mr.) Clark. Father and 
Mother say, * You marry him.' So I did." She then confided 
to me some of her conjugal troubles. Like many more of 
his sex, he had relaxed in his attentions to his partner; 
though, having the youngest and most beautiful, he might 
be supposed out of the reach of more attractive influences. 
Anyhow, he was tired of home delights, and was seriously 
contemplating leaving her for a whaling cruise, as William 
Lann^, the last man, had done. " And now," added she, 
" he want to leave me." Some of the old ladies near com- 
menced in rude English to declaim upon the evil propensities 
of men in general, and Augustus in particular. Of course I 
expressed my sympathy, and declared that if he dared carry 
out his wicked intentions, I would come and take her back 
with me to Port Phillip. This caused shouts of laughter 
from the aboriginal ladies. Bessy wished to give me a parting 
gift. Not knowing what to bestow, I suggested it should be 
something of her own manufacture. After thinking a while, 
she darted off into the swamp near, and reappeared with a 
handful of native flax. Squatting down on the ground, she 
turned up her garment, exposed her thigh, and began diligently 
rubbing the fibres on her bared leg, until she had made a 
length of string for me. She spoke very feelingly of Mr. 
Clark, and repeatedly uttered, as if half to herself, " Very 
good man ! All Black fellows love him." 

Laughing little Lalla Eookh, or Truganina, was my especial 
favourite of the party. She acted among the rest as if she 
were indeed the sultana. She was then much over fifty 
years of age, and preserved some of those graces which made 
her beauty a snare in olden days, and sadly tried the patience 
of respective husbands. Her coquetry reminded me of the 
faded loveliness of French courts ; and, as she stood smirking 
and smiling beside me, I thought of the septuagenarian 
admirer of Voltaire. Her features, in spite of her bridgeless 
nose, were decidedly pleasing, when lighted up by her spark- 
ling black eye in animated conversation. Her nose was of 
the genuine saucy retrousse order. She was further adorned 
with a fair moustache, and well-developed, curly whiskers, 


by Google 


that were just beginning to turn .with advancing years. She 
was in 1829 the wife of the bold Wooreddy, the chief of the 
Bruni tribe. Her appreciation of English society was a sore 
trial to her more solemn-looking native companion. As her 
name so often appears in this work, it is needless to say 
more of this sylvan goddess of Tasmania. She v*. the last of 
the race, 

Maryann, the half-caste, was the wife of "Walter, King 
Walter, or George Arthur Walter. She had the appearance 
of her mixed race. Her delicate hand, her dark eyes, her 
nose and mouth, declared the native mother ; but her broad 
and lofty forehead indicated the European descent' of the 
father. She was unquestionably a woman of weight in the 
country, bringing down upon the floor as she walked a 
pressure of some seventeen or eighteen stone. There was not 
only vigour of intellect, but a strength and independence of 
will, stamped upon her expansive features. The base of her 
brain represented the portentous character of animal appetites, 
while the loftiness and breadth elsewhere exhibited the force 
of moral sentiments. 

Her mother, Sarah, had been stolen from her forest home 
by one of the early sealers of the Straits, whose name was 
Cottrel Cochrane. He had not proved a cruel husband, nor 
a wholly neglectful father. When, however, Mr. Eobinson 
made his raid upon the Straitsmen, and carried off their 
dark-skinned partners, Maryann found a new home on Flinders 
Island. There she was cared for as the daughter of a black 
woman rather than the child of an Englishman. Her associ- 
ates were her mother's race, and she felt her degradation in 
the presence of her whiter female acquaintance. With such 
extraordinary powers, had she been received into a respectable 
family, and treated in a proper manner, she might have been 
a happier and more useful woman. As it was, she became 
the wife of Walter. She never had a child. 

The masculine element of Oyster Cove was not in the 
ascendant. There was poor Tippoo Saib, no longer a terrible 
warrior, like his Hindoo namesake, of tiger celebrity, but old, 
feeble, and nearly blind. He was of the Coal Eiver tribe, 
and claimed Flora for his bride. Augustus, the husband of 
Bessy Clark, has already been presented. Willie, of whom 
the women seemed never tired of talking, was the youngest 


by Google 


living of the Tasmanians, and had just before reached, his 
majority. He was declared to be **fine young man — plenty 
beard — plenty laugh — very good, that fellow." As he was 
absent on a whaling voyage, I had not the opportunity of 
seeing him then ; though, as William Lanne, the last of the 
Tasmanian men, he was in Hobart Town at the time of 
another visit, in 1867. 

• Black Allen, Jackey, the Leonidas of Flinders Island, was 
the husband of the Ring-tailed ^Possum., Patty. He had 
associated with Whites from a boy, and had accompanied Mr. 
John Batman in his expedition after the Blacks in 1830. I 
regret to say that Jackey was much advanced in onB civilized 
habit — that of indulgence in strong drink. This was ulti- 
mately the cause of his death — being drowned when returning 
drunk from Hobart Town, in May 1861. 

Walter was far above the rest of the people. He was of 
royal blood, being the son of King George; and he was 
named George Arthur, after the Governor of the colony. His 
face presented no aggravation of the Native features, though 
sufficiently betraying the Black man. If standing on the 
steps of the Piazza di Spagna in Eome, he would have been 
often selected as a model for his magnificent head. His nose 
was depressed, a characteristic of his tribe ; but his eye was 
of even unusual expressiveness. His general aspect was one 
of seriousness and melancholy. 

I am not ashamed to confess that, when I have sometimes 
stood silently and thoughtfully before an Aborigine, and looked, 
though but for a moment, into that dark and dreamy eye of 
his, catching the expression of its melancholy gaze, I have 
been oppressed with the feeling that there lay something 
behind that glance I so wanted to know, but never could 
know, a something he might dimly conceive, but not accur- 
ately realize. Once, when so I looked, and so I felt, before 
my friend Walter, he answered my silent speech with such a 
look and start as I shall never forget, and even now remember 
with moistened eyes. Involuntarily he held out his hand, 
grasped mine, and walked quietly away. The extremes of 
colour had met, and both kne\7, without being ever known. 
When after a few moments we walked together again, and 
spoke upon indiflerent subjects, there was such a gentleness 
of manner in him, so subdued a tone, that I knew I had 


by Google 


gained his heart, and developed his nature. But for what 1 
— for whom 1 Going afterwards into his hut, he reappeared 
with some pebbles in a bit of rag. They were diamonds, so. 
called, which he had gathered on Flinders Island. He put 
them in my hand. It was his treasure. He had no child 
and no brother. I understood him, and accepted of his gift. 
He has gone to his fathers, and his present is one of my most 
cherished mementoes. 

He was then employed to take passengers to and from the 
steamer, on its way from the Huon to Hobart Town. He 
received one shilling a day for attention to the mail-bags, and 
earned money by the execution of various business com- 
missions. He cultivated at his leisure a part of his own little 
farm of twenty acres. Having been able to learn more than 
his countrymen, he had quite a civilized appearance, spoke 
English with fluency, and even wrote with moderate accuracy. 
His Majesty, King Walter, took me into particular favour, and 
invited me to a banquet in the palace — or,— tea in the hut. 
Arrived at the door of a neat three-roomed Bush cottage, 
I was received with many smiles by the buxom Maryann, 
who introduced me within. There I found my royal host 
conversing with a Sydney half-caste, who had come on a 
friendly visit. The room into which I was brought had 
many tokens of civilization and gentility wanting in most 
of the country cottages of England. The furniture, though 
homely, was suitable and comfortable. A carpet covered the 
floor. Not a particle of dust could be seen. A few prints 
adorned the walls, and books lay on a side-table. The Bible 
occupied a conspicuous position. The daily newspaper was 
there, as Walter was a regular subscriber for the press. The 
table was laid with quite a tempting appearance, and a 
thorough good cup of tea was handed round by the jovial- 
lookiug hostess. It was about the last evidence of civilization 
to be witnessed in connection with the interesting race of 

Our conversation was an interesting and a merry one. 
The Sydney half-caste, out of respect for the white visitor, 
soon quietly retired, and left me alone with the proprietors 
of the neat little hut. I have elsewhere described the gift 
of some Flinders Island diamonds from poor Walter. I was 
to receive a parting remembrance from his wife. He had 

Digitized by VjOOQLC 

natives' drink curse. 189 

given me what was most valuable in his eyes. She presented 
me with what was pleasing in hers. It was a charming neck- 
lace of the smallest and most brilliantly-polished shells I 
have ever seen. Even then I felt the delicacy of her nature, 
as she said, putting the glittering, object in my hand : ** Give 
that to your daughter." I thanked her, and inquired if my 
lassie should wear it as a necklace. " No,^' replied my poor 
friend, "let her wear it on her back hair as the Indian 
women do." Many years have passed ; but I never see my 
daughter adorned with this pretty wreath without thinking 
of Maryann the half-caste. 

When I parted with them, a thorough cordiality of feeling 
had been established between us. Knowing the moral danger 
of their position, I earnestly warned them of the evils of 
intemperance ; for what seemed so friendly to them in their 
weary lives of objectless efifort, and when so companionless of 
sympathy, as the cup that elevates and cheers, although it 
blights and it intoxicates! It was needful warning. The 
curse had already been felt in their little homestead, for 
Walter had several times fallen to the drunkard's stage. One 
evening, in May 1861, he and Jack Allen went on board 
their boat at the Hobart Town wharf, on their way to Oyster 
Cove. They had been to the public-house, and were seen in 
a state unfit for the voyage. After proceeding three miles, 
when off Sandy Bay, the boat was upset, and both Walter 
and his mate sank to the bottom of the Derwent. 

We will now hear what Captain Stokes, the explorer,' had 
to say of our two friends, whom he saw on Flinders Island 
in 1842 : — " Walter and Maryann, a married couple who had 
recently returned from Port Phillip, where they had been 
living in the family of the former superintendent, Mr. Eobin- 
son, were so civilized and proficient in all the plain parts of 
education, that they possessed great influence over their 
countrymen, who, incited by the contemplation of their 
superiority, were apparently desirous of acquiring knowledge. 
The barracks in which the Natives dwell form a square of 
good stone buildings ; but Walter and his wife have a separate 
cottage, with a piece of land attached. Maryann is a very 
tolerable needlewoman, and capable of teaching the others." 
In Dr. Jeanneret's time the pair dwelt in a hut apart from 
the rest. 


by Google 


I have now before me the original letter addressed by 
Walter George Arthur when he sought to buy a piece of 
land near the aboriginal station of Oyster Cove. The letter 
occupies more than three pages of note-paper, and has been 
rather roughly struck ofE in a hurry. It has been kindly 
presented to me by Sir Eichard Dry, who thus permitted Mr. 
Surveyor-General Calder to keep a certified copy in the office. 
Walter entreats Dr. Milligan, the Protector, to get a certain 
eight-acre block for him, and, as he says, " ascertain from the 
Government what would they charge for it, the 8 acres." 
He gives his reasons for the purchase, and is generous enough 
to use the plural number in the first person ; for his wife, 
Maryann, being a scholar, and weighing nearly twenty stone, 
was a partner demanding consideration. ** We would very 
much like to have it," he continues, ** to make it a little 
homestead for ourselves. My reasons for Troubleing you so 
much is that there is no distance from the water's edge, and 
that it is more Dryer than the other Piece of ground up the 
creek by Claytons, and not only that, if we put anything into 
the ground up the creek it either gets trodden to Pieces or 
otherwise rutted up by somebody, or spoiled in some way 
so that we can't do any good by it." He is too independent 
to solicit eight acres of the soil seized by the Whites from 
his nation, but adds : " I mean for to buy it out." 

Walter, believing himself possessed of sufficient means to 
keep an assigned servant, applied to Government, in 1856, 
for a convict man. This was his letter : — 

" I beg respectfully to apply for permission to hire a Pass- 
holder Servant man subject to existing regulations." 

Although many a white man who had been exiled for his 
country's good, and who was utterly illiterate, obtained this 
privilege, it was not thought expedient to place a Christian 
Englishman under the authority of a savage ^ and the applica- 
tion was refused. Mr. Calder, who knew him well, gives 
this report, in 1868, of my aboriginal acquaintance, as it is 
in reply to a question of my own through a friend : — 

" Mr. Bonwick asks if the Blacks of Tasmania were capable 
of true civilization. My reply is, * Tes, undoubtedly ; ' and 
I give as an example the case of Walter George Arthur, a 
Tasmanian aboriginal, whom I knew well, who was captured 
when a mere infant, and brought up and educated at the 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 



by Google 


Queen's Orphan School (at Hobart Town). His ideas were 
perfectly English, and there was not the smallest dash of the 
savage in him. He was a very conversible man, fond of 
reading, and spoke and wrote English quite grammatically. 
His spelling was also quite correct. This man had a hundred 
acres of land, and knew his rights in relation thereto quite 
as well as you do yours. An instance of this, quite as 
creditable to his acuteness, sense of right, and of honourable 
feelings, was related to me by our old friend Bennison, the 
surveyor. One of Arthur's neighbours was a grasping and 
rather unprincipled fellow, who mistook Arthur for a person 
with whom he might do as he pleased, and encroached on a 
cultivated part of his land, which Arthur had no idea of 
suffering. So, after expostulating with him to no purpose, 
he employed and paid Bennison to resurvey his land, which 
was done in presence of both litigants. This operation 
proved that Arthur was right, and that he knew his proper 
boundaries quite well. And when he saw that his opponent 

was satisfied, he said to him, * Well, Mr. , though you 

have tried to wrong me, I will treat you very differently 
from what I believe you would have done to me, if I were in 
your place. You can come on to my land and remove your 
crop when it is ripe.' " 

* He was not quite civilized after all, for such conduct was 
scarcely that generally adopted by our enlightened countrymen* 


The rough sealers of the stormy Bass's Straits would form 
an interesting chapter in the early history of the colonies, 
apart from their association with the Aborigines of Van 
Diemen's Land, and the part they took in the Black War. 

The primitive Straitsmen were mostly runaway convicts, 
of a seafaring turn. On shore they would have been Bush- 
rangers, and defied the law. On the waters, at the onset, 
these bold spirits, in their Httle whale-boats, waylaid vessels, 
and levied black-mail upon the cargo. Occasionally they 
hovered near some coast settlement, and .dashed upon a 
solitary settler for supplies. They seemed the veritable 
descendants of the ancient Sea-kings. 


by Google 


Either the force of circumstances, or the development of 
latent honesty, led them to change their mode of life, and 
confine their operations to more legitimate pursuits. The 
growth of commerce converted them into producers. The 
granite islands which form a kind of Giant's Causeway from 
Victoria to Tasmania, afforded them at once a home and a 
field of labour. In sheltered nooks they raised a cabin, 
enclosed a garden plot, obtained some goats, and sometimes 
had no other companion than man*s own faithful friend — a 
dog. Hunting f6r the seal in those tempestuous seas, for the 
sake of skin and oil, was a perilous undertaking. Flinders, 
discoverer of the Straits' seals and Flinders Island, became 
indirectly associated with the extinction of the furred animal 
and the dark-skinned Aborigine. 

The Mutton-bird, the sorrow of the aboriginal captive 
slave of the sealer, is so called from its supposed teiste. It 
is the Sooty Petrel of naturalists. Web-footed, it skims, 
with its long wings, over the ocean for its food, the floating 
spawn, or a green slimy subst-ance. Smaller than a duck, 
but somewhat larger than a pigeon, it accumulates fat to an 
enormous extent, and furnishes by pressure alone a consider- 
able amount of oil. The time of incubation is toward the 
end of the year. The female comes to land, burrows in the 
sand of the shore, or the decomposed granite of tlie islands, 
often to the depth of four feet, and deposits its eggs. These 
were diligently procured by the black women, and carried by 
the sealers with their seal oil to Launceston and other markets. 

The feathers were plucked and dried, being used for beds, 
and other purposes. In warm weather the organ of scent is 
rather disturbed, as I have experienced more than once, 
when one rested upon a bed of ill-prepared mutton-bird 
feathers. It would take about five-and-twenty birds to pro- 
duce a pound of feathers, which used to sell for sixpence. 
ITie sealers' women had an ingenious mode of catching the 
birds to procure their feathers. They selected the very early 
morning, when the birds that had stayed on the island by 
night were not yet stirring. Having previously got a large 
pit made, with a brush fence on one side, they would rouse 
the birds from their slumbers, and drive the long-winged 
ones, like a flock of sheep, toward the hole. 

The poor stolen gim were literally the slaves of the sealers. 


by Google 


They were temoved to the rocky islets of the Straits, and 
made to till the land, collect sea-birds and feathers, hunt 
after and preserve the skins of the wallaby, pick up the 
nautilus shell driven on the sands by the storm, and take 
their turn at the oar. 

That the connection was not absolute misery may be be- 
lieved, and that the course of existence was relieved by some 
sunny scenes, if shaded by darker memories. I have heard 
of some instances of men holding family prayer with their 
half-caste children, and of others who obtained a Bible, and 
instructed the young in their duties. The mother, under 
su3h circumstances, would, at least, be comfortable. 

The history of old Munro, the " King of the Sealers," is 
a favourable one for the times. For a quarter of a century 
he lived on Preservation Island, near the main, and in Banks' 
Strait ; it was so called from the preservation of a crew there 
in a shipwreck. There he held sway over his wild neigh- 
bours, who were accustomed to go to the " Governor of the 
Straits," and refer to his judgment and decision their small 
subjects of litigation ; although an Old Hand declared to me 
that the secret of his superiority lay less in the strength of 
his intellect and the astuteness of his counsels, than upon 
the use of " a lot of crack-jaw dictionary words, and wise 
looks." There he had at one time three female Tasmanians 
and a^ half-caste family. This patriarchal group were much 
esteemed by the sealers. 

The darker side of the picture came before the public at 
the close of the Black War, when arrangements were being 
made to exile the Aborigines to an island in the Straits, and 
when Mr. Eobinson, armed with the Governor's authority, 
sailed among the islands for investigation of sealers' doings, 
and the rescue of the native women from their captivity. 
The earlier the period the more disgraceful the stories. 
Thus, we hear of wretches who boasted of shooting their 
women. A poor creature was being beaten, when, by strug- 
gling, she released herself from her tormentor, and fled. The 
fellow coolly took up his gun and shot her. Being after- 
wards asked why he beat her in the first instance, he simply 
replied, " Because she wouldn't clean the mutton-birds." 

We have Mr. Eobinson's authority for the statement that 
a wretched man, named Harrington, had stolen a dozen 



by Google 


women and placed them on different islands to work for him. 
Upon finding insufficient labour done, he would, upon his 
return, tie them to trees for twenty-four hours in succession, 
flogging them &om time to time. He has been known to 
kill them in cool blood when stubborn to his will. Captain 
Stokes tells us of a brutal sealer who volunteered a passage 
of his autobiography : — ** He confessed," says the Captain, 
^* that he kept the poor creature chained up like a wild beast, 
and whenever he wanted her to do anything, applied a 
burning stick, a firebrand from the hearth, to her skin." 

When the Government craft, belonging to Flinders Island, 
was lying off Circular Head, on the northern side of the 
island, a sealer's boat came off to it. In the stem was seated 
a young Aborigine of an interesting appearance, of mild 
features, but with a brow clouded by sadness. Neatly 
dressed, she was evidently better treated than most of her 
class ; but the low tones in which she spoke, and the furtive 
glances she threw at the sealers, sufficiently indicated the 
terror under which she lived. A Black fellow from the ship 
began conversing with her, and urged her to fly from the 
Whites, and go to Flinders. Jackey, as she was called, was 
excited, but declined leaving the whale-boat Lieutenant 
Darling was on board, and, guessing the reason of her refusal, 
gave her to understand that he had power from the Governor 
to take her from the sealers. As soon as she understood 
this, she bounded upon deck with a burst of joy. Another 
woman strongly censured her conduct, and went ashore with 
the sealers. But in the night she ran off, and came to the 
cutter with her little child. 

Mr. Robinson gave a sad recital of his first Straits capture, 
the women of which party he carried to Gun Carriage Island, 
and who told their tales of the past to him. One spoke of 
having been stolen by the veteran Munro, another of being 
bought for some skins, while a third detailed her sufferings 
from the lash. Jock, or Ploic-ner-noop-per-ner, spoke of the 
way the sealers tied her up and beat her. Smoker was given 
up to the sealers by her husband, and that after she had 
given birth to several of his children. She had run away, 
was chased, taken, and severely flogged. It was with much 
difficulty Mr. Robinson succeeded in procuring some of them, 
as the sealers, aware of his errand, concealed them. Among 


by Google 


those thus taken were Kit, Sail, Judy, Mother Brown, Little 
Mary, Little Buck, &c. But he had positive instructions not 
to take the women away against their will. The sealers and 
the Conciliator were far from being friends. But he made a 
compromise with them. If they helped him to gather in the 
wild wanderers, he would allow them to keep the women they 
had. In his official report he declared that " the sealers are per- 
fectly satisfied with the arrangements." Of course they were. 

From the journal of Mr. George Washington Walker I 
make an extract : — 

"From conversation with several sealers in the Straits, 
twelve of whom we have seen, and from the testimony of 
other persons, confirmed by that of native women who once 
lived with the sealers, but are now at the settlement (Flinders), 
we cannot regard the situation of the aboriginal females 
amongst that class of men as differing materially from slavery, 
unless the circumstance of one man having only one woman 
and living with her in a state of concubinage, and holding 
himself at liberty to abandon her when it may suit his own 
convenience, constitute the difference. The object of these 
men in retaining the women, most of whom, it is asserted, 
were originally kidnapped, is obviously for the gratification of 
their lust, and for the sake of the labour they can exact from 
them. In resorting to coercion in order to extort the services 
of these poor defenceless women, great cruelty appears to have 
been used by their unfeeling masters, with a few exceptions. 

"At our request, a woman, named Boatswain by the 
sealers, with whom she lived some years, gave ns some 
particTilars relative to the treatment of the women amongst 
them. This she did partly by words, and partly by ex- 
pressive signs that could not be misunderstood; and her 
statements were fuUy confirmed by other women who were 
present, and who had been similarly dealt with. She was 
requested to show in what manner they beat them. She 
then made signs of being stripped, stretched her hands up 
against the wall, in the attitude of a prisoner tied up to be 
flogged, making at the same time a doleful cry, and personat- 
ing a flagellator in the exercise of his duty. After this she 
described a different scene. She represented a person striking 
another over the back and legs, and then herself as sinking 
down on the ground, while she repeatedly exclaimed, in a 

o 2 


by Google 


piteous tone, * Oh, I "will clean the mutton-birds better,' until 
at last her voice seemed to fail through exhaustion. She said 
the men beat them with great sticks. When asked if certain 
men beat their women, she excep.ted four, the woman of one 
of whom was weakly, and would have died if he had beaten 
her. On her observing of one of the men that * he beat his 
woman,' it was remarked, with surprise, that she had an 
infant. To this she replied, * Yes, he beat her when the 
child was in her.' On inquiry being made, if she would go 
back to the sealers, she replied, in strong terms, that she 
would not, and the other women joined with ber in making 
the same declaration. 

** They appear to have made little or no" progress in civiliza- 
tion, or in anything but what contributed to the pecuniary 
advantage or gratification of their masters. They have been 
even encouraged to perpetuate their barbarous customs. 
What, indeed, can be expected at the hands of men who, 
though nominally Christians, live in open violation of the 
gospel, and have little claim to the appellation of Christians l" 


The subject of Half-castes is one of the saddest of the 
many dark stories in the history of the Tasmanians. 

Some travellers have expressed themselves so strongly 
upon the repulsive characteristics of our Southern races, that 
it might occasion surprise to hear of association between their 
females and the strangers come from Ettrope. But, after the 
French portraiture of an Our4 Oura, and the romancings of 
even some graver Englishmen, we may be prepared for the 
manifestation of some sympathy between the opposing 
colours. The rougher class of our people would be the first 
attracted, and the presentation of food, a fig of tobacco, or a 
gaudy dress, would occasionally melt the chaste bosom of a 
dark beauty. 

The chastity of the dark races has been much, and most 
unjustly, impugned. We have incontrovertible evidence 
that many Blacks, especially among the Papuans, illustrate 
that virtue quite as much as the lighter and more civilized 
peoples. The fruits of concubinage are not to be envied any- 

Digitized by VjOOQLC 


where. The experience and poems of Savage illustrate the 
sad tale. The sins of the fathers have been bitterly visited 
upon the children. 

The Tasmanian half-caste if permitted to see the light, 
seldom lived long in the tribe. The mother, to conceal her 
shame, or repenting of her act, would often prevent the birth 
by abortion ; or, when unsuccessful, would destroy the infant 
upon its entrance into the world. If instinct led her to spare 
her child, the husband or brother might avenge the family 
wrongs by a fatal blow. 

Dr. Story tells me that he never knew a half-caste in the 
tribe with which he was acquainted in Tasmania. So others 
have said of the wandering tribes. Even in Australia it was 
exceedingly rare to see a half-caste, at a time when children's 
laughter rang through the encampment. Then, as Mr. 
Schmidt, the Queensland missionary, found, " it was the rule 
to destroy the half-caste immediately after birth," Mr. G. 
A. Robinson and other Protectors said the same thing of 
Port Phillip. In more modern times, since a birth of any 
kind has become so uncommon a circumstance, the half-castes 
have been occasionally suffered to live, and have been even 
cherished with pride by the tribe. I have been several times 
pleased with the exultant satisfaction of the miserable 
remnant of a once mighty tribe at the yellow baby. Once, 
while admiring a Very pretty specimen of the mixture in 
Victoria, a fine-bearded young fellow strode up smiling to 
me, saying, " That me piccaninny — you gib it tixpence." He 
then burst into a ro^r of laughter at his own assumption of 
paternity. But even these, as Mr. Protector Parker observed, • 
disappear mysteriously at the age of puberty, if suffered to 
last so long. 

To the honour of the Government of Van Piemen's Land, 
efforts were made to save the offspring of such connections. 
We read of a sawyer, one Smith, and his black friend, Mrs. 
Fanny Cochrane Smith, receiving twenty-five pounds a year 
for their half-caste child. Grants of land have been made to 
reputed parents, subject to the life of the offspring, or con- 
tingent upon the orthodox marriage of the mother. But the 
tribes have repeatedly avenged their honour by murdering 
the little one, whom they decoyed to their secluded haunts. 

That which has excited most astonishment and disgust 


by Google 


has been the indifference of English fathers to the future 
being of their half-caste progeny. It can scarcely be pleaded 
in extenuation of their brutality, that gentlemen at home, 
admitted into the best circles, have been quite as heedless as 
to the future existence, or otherwise, of the fruits of their 
illicit intercourse with their own but poorer countrywomen. 

Before the half-castes existed in any number, or when 
mostly confined to the sealers of the Straits, many benevolent 
individuals had a dim hope, amidst the rising horrors of the 
Black War, of the future utility of the half-castes. Could 
more be expected from the half-castes of the little island than 
from those of other parts of the world? It has been observed 
with pain, that, while in intellect they have been superior to 
the dark race, they were usually inferior to them in morals. 
How far this has arisen from unfavourable circumstances may 
appear in subsequent narratives. The Rev. George Taplin, 
the worthy missionary to the New South Wales Natives, 
once gave me this description of the Australian half-castes : 
*♦ They are generally very bad and low, especially the women." 

In Tasmania the half-castes were certainly never numerous 
under the most favourable circumstances. And yet Mr. 
Bobinson, when depriving the sealers of their black com- 
panions, acknowledges that a large number of children re- 
mained behind, few coming off with their mothers. One 
woman had thirteen children by a sealer. Maryann, the 
wife of King Walter, assured me that her black mother had 
five by her white father. Captain Stokes counted twenty- 
five on Preservation Island and neighbourhood. But Dr. 
Jeanneret reported on Flinders Island, in 1846, forty-eeven 
Natives of pure blood, and five of half-caste. 

I have endeavoured to ascertain the number living, both 
of the first and second degree. The best reply to my 
inquiries came from Mr. Surveyor-General Calder, of Hobart 
Town. In November 1868 he sent me word that the total 
number then amounted to eighty or ninety. "This state- 
ment," he adds, ^ I make upon faith of a letter lately received 
by me from Captain Malcolm Laing Smith, formerly of the 
78th regiment, I think, who interests himself much about 
them. They are stationed on some of the smaller islands 
of Furneaux' group, between, or about, Flinders and Capo 
Barren Islands.** 


by Google 


My half-caste friend Maryann gave a pleasing account 
of her father and mother in their islapd homestead. Before 
removal to Flinders Island she had resided at Launceston, 
being conveyed there by her father to the care of a friend. 
Although she was of superior ability to most white children, 
and would, if more happily situated, have become a truly 
distinguished woman, she was thrown by officials among the 
degraded Blacks of the island, to her own serious moral and 
intellectual loss. Repelled in cold disdain by her father's 
blood, she clung to her mother's kind, and ultimately con- 
tracted a childless marriage with Walter George Arthur, the 
most intelligent and educated of the Native race. Her sister 
Fanny, many years younger than herself, married a European, 
upon some vicissitudes of virtue. After a marriage of five 
years, she gave birth to a child. The Government had made 
the pair a grant of one hundred acres of land, though not to 
be sold. Maryann had, at the time of her conversation with 
me, recently received a letter from her sister, stating that she 
was then living perfectly happy with her husband in Hobart 

A friend gave the melancholy account of a family of half- 
caste girls, all of whom but one had turned out badly, and 
died early from dissipation. Another instance was more 
favourable. A lady had taken a boy and girl under her 
care. They had not been related, but were ultimately 
married, went on a farm, and did well. There was known a 
Tasmanian half-caste couple living on the Victorian diggings. 

Dr. Nixon, first Bishop of Tasmania, undertook a voyage 
to the islands of the Straits, on an episcopal tour, but with 
particular reference to the condition of the half-castes there. 
His notices of them possess much interest. He baptized 
many of them and their children, besides having the pleasure 
of uniting some in marriage who had long cohabited unlaw- 
fully. Full of sympathy for the mixed race, he was ready to 
see, if possible, a favourable side to their character, and foster 
in their minds a love for the truthful and good. In his 
interesting narrative of "The Cruise of the Beacon," he 
bestows a compliment upon one whom he describes as " the 
greatest lady " of his acquaintance. It is another corrobor- 
ative testimony to the care exerted by some white fathers of 
this interesting race, who acted as old Adams of the Pitcaim 


by Google 


islanders. His lordship says, " Lucy Beadon, a noble-looking 
half -caste,, of some twenty-five years of age, bears the burden 
of twenty-three stone. Good-humoured and kind-hearted, 
she is every one's friend upon the island. High-minded and 
earnest in her Christian profession, she has set herself to 
work to do good in her generation. From the pure love of. 
those around her, she daily gathers together the children of 
the sealers, and does her best to impart to them the rudiments 
both of secular and religious knowledge." 

Although possessed of means, with which he could have 
comfortably resided in civilized society, her father preferred 
his rocky, storm-girt home on Badger's Island. His aboriginal 
wife and most of his children died before him, and were 
buried on Gun Carriage Island. In January, 1867, he was 
laid, at his own request, beside the remains of the Tasmanian 
mother of his offspring. 

Having to christen a child at one place, the Bishop has 
given us a notice of the juvenile half-caste. ** One of them," 
he says, "a boy of two years of age, was as magnificent a 
little fellow as I ever saw. His large, full black eyes, and 
finely-formed features, would have done honour to any 

He writes with much feeling of his astonishment and 
pleasure at finding in most of these regions of storm, and 
among so rough a class, the observances of religion, and those 
of his own Church. In that ramble of 1854 he visited Gun 
Carriage Island, from which the sealers were originally driven 
by Mr. Robinson for a temporary home of his gathered exiles, 
and to which, upon the transfer to Flinders, they were per- 
mitted to return. There he conducted service, and afterwards 
tells his tale : — 

" It was with a solemn sense of the privilege conferred 
upon me, that there, in that storm-girt hut, the winds and 
the waves roaring around me, I, as the first minister of God 
that had set foot upon the island, from the dawn of creation 
until then, commenced the humble offering of prayer and 

praise to that creation's Lord These simple half-castes, 

the last relics of the union of aboriginal women with the 
sealers, had taken the Prayer-Book as their guide, and did 
not set up their own rebellious wills against its plain in- 
junctions. They were not too proud to kneel ; their psalmody. 


by Google 


too, was correct, and touching in its expressiveness. There 
was a deep earnestness with which my half-caste congregation 
joined in the several parts of the service, that I should be 
glad to witness in the more educated and polished gatherings 
of Christian worshippers." 

Some of the half-castes have been noticed as possessing 
uncommon beauty, and travellers, like Lieutenant Jeffreys 
and Captain Stokes, have been eloquent in their praises. 
The very beauty of the little things has, without doubt, been 
the means of sparing their lives awhile, even with the wild 
tribe. A writer of the year 1815 had a funny tale to tell 
of a pretty half-caste child, whom he observed in company 
with one of the Natives. Turning toward the man, he 
jocularly exclaimed, " That not your child — too white.** The 
savage, ready at a joke, and willing to give a laughable turn 
to his partner's fraily, claimed the little one as his own, but 
excused its pale colour because " my gin (wife) eat too much 
white bread." 

In the early days, a sealer of King's Island was drowned, 
leaving behind two pretty little half-caste guis and a boy. 
Some benevolent person, pitting the state of the children, 
made some representations to the Governor, and the Gazette 
appealed to the public on their behalf. Mr. Fairfax Fen wick 
took the boy, who soon, however, ran away from his guardian. 
Two maiden ladies. Miss Newcombe and Miss Drysdale, 
afterwards historical characters in the annals of Port Phillip, 
accepted the charge of the girls, and conscientiously per- 
formed their duty toward them. They were well instructed 
and religiously tmined. Kitty was remarkably attractive in 
person ; and, being taken by her friends to the new colony 
across the Straits, obtained a husband, and lived there 
respectably. I heard of her last removing with her husband 
to Eallarat. Her sister, the much-admired Mary, was more 
erratic than Kitty. After some changes, she settled down as 
the wife of an Englishman, and became the mother of a fine 
family. Few troubled themselves about the parental feelings 
of the sealer's partner, the black mother of these hali'-castes. 
Soon after her children had been forcibly removed from her, 
she fretted so much as to die of a broken heart. 

One romantic story connected with this subject remains to 
be told. It is the history of Miss Dolly Dalrymple, the first 


by Google 


known half-caste of the colony, and so called from being 
born near Port Dalrymple, the port of the Eiver Tamar. 

Dolly was bom in 1808. She was seen by Lieutenant 
Jeffrej^s in 1820, and described as '* remarkably handsome, 
of a light colour, with rosy cheeks, large black eyes, the 
whites of which were tinged with blue, and long, well-formed 
eyelashes, with teeth uncommonly white, and the limbs 
admirably formed." She was then living with a lady and 
gentleman in Launceston who had undertaken her education 
and care. 

Her mother. Bong, a genuine Tasmanian beauty, had been 
attracted to the side of a young sailor of the Straits. He is 
said to have been of respectable connections at home, but of 
" a wild and volatile disposition.'* Dolly was not her only 
child ; and it is in relation to another that she experienced 
a remarkable adventure. As may be conjectured, the men 
of the tribe were angry with the Whites who had stolen 
their gins^ but especially indignant against those of the female 
members who preferred the society of the opposite colour. 
Several instances are recorded of murders on this account. 
The known attachment of Bong to the father of her children 
marked her out as an especial object of their jealous rage. 

One evening, the sealers* party having been to Launceston 
for the sale of skins and the purchase of supplies, and Bong 
to revisit her eldest child, the boat had been anchored about 
ten miles from town, and Bong took a stroll in the Bush 
with an infant at her breast. Unfortunately, she was seen 
and tracked by a bloodthirsty company of Aborigines. The 
child, the mark of her tribal crime, was dragged from her, 
and pitched remorselessly into a native fire. The mother, 
in a fury of parental feeling, tore herself from her murderous 
countrymen, rushed to the fire, extricated her darling from 
the flames, and darted off into the obscurity of the forest for 
safety. Loud were the yells of the pursuers, and eager the 
search for their victim. Aware of her inability to outrun 
the men, she very adroitly sought the covert of a dense 
shade, and lay down breathless with fear and anxiety. 
Unable to find her track in the dark, the fellows gradually 
returned growling to the camp-fire, and after threats of 
revenge disposed themselves to sleep. The watclrful mother 
keenly marked, their reclining, tmd hastened to renew her 


by Google 


flight, arriving at Launceston by the morning dawn. Her 
little one died in a few days from the burning. 

It may be remarked, before leaving poor Bong, that, when 
the Conciliatory Mission was formed, she attached herself 
to the party, and proved of valuable service. Her vengeance 
for the loss of her baby was found in her labour of love for 
the redemption of her race from their forest miseries. In- 
stead of recognizing the claims of family, when the Black 
War was over, Mr. Robinson harshly ordered her to be sent 
to Flinders Island, with the other Blacks, instead of per- 
mitting her to live with Dolly Dalrymple, or with another 
daughter whom she had in Launceston. 

The handsome Dolly, as usual, was exposed to many 
temptations. We have no record of her Launceston career 
after twelve years of age, but may fear the effect of her 
beauty in a colonial period not celebrated for the virtues. 
History brings her before us in the midst of the Black War, 
when living at the Dairy Plains, as the companion of a 
stock-keeper named Johnson. 

A man, called Cupid, having been speared by the Quamby 
Bluff tribe, ran for shelter to Dolly's hut. She had no 
sooner extracted the spears from the body of the wounded 
man, than the mob surrounded the place. Seizing a double- 
barrelled gun, she gallantly defended her fortress, and com- 
pelled her assailants to retreat with heavy loss of life. Par- 
ticulars of the conflict are given elsewhere. It is sufficient 
to say that, in addition to other testimonial:', she received a 
grant of ten acres in the township of Perth, and the Governor 
promised Johnson other ten acres, and a free pardon, he 
being then a convict, if he became legally married to the 
brave woman. 

This was done, and the beautiful children she had were 
legitimized. She lived to bring up a family of girJs, cele- 
brated all over the country for their lovelmess. One of 
them had perfectly white hair. 


by Google 



The apostolic Bishop Selwyn, a lover of the coloured race, 
had been deeply affected with the story of the Tasmanians ; 
and, upon Ins appointment as Missionary Pastor of the 
Maories, became the resolute advocate of Native freedom. In 
1847 he uttered these memorable words : — 

" I am resolved, God being my helper, to use all legal and 
constitutional measures, befitting my station, to inform the 
Natives of New Zealand of their rights and privileges as 
British subjects, and to assist them in asserting and main- 
taining them." 

Who ever aided the Tasmanians in a knowledge of their 
rights, or in the vindication of them ] Learned legal authori- 
iies, from Bacon, Puffendorff, downwards, had contended that 
cannibals were beyond law, and could legally be slain. Many 
still affirm that a hunting tribe have no right to the soil they 
refuse to till. Voltaire, when referring to the struggle for 
supremacy among French and English colonists in America, 
sarcastically observed, " They had quite made up their minds 
in one point, viz. that the Natives had no right at all to the 
land.'* An Indian Sachem thus put the question : — " The 
French claim all the land on one side of the Ohio, the English 
claim all the land on the other side ; now where does the 
Indians' land lie ? '* Even Mr. George, who would take away 
the land from English owners here, would scarcely consent to 
give back his American acres to the Eed man. 

In the transfer of his country the Tasmanian, according 
to Count Strzelecki, " has been allowed no more voice than 
the kangaroo.'* Still, Government declared in Proclamations 
that the Tribesmen were British subjects, and should be 
treated by the law on equal terms with the Whites. Was it 
so 1 Could they retain any portion of their country 1 Could 
they, if committing a fault, be tried by their peers ] Would 
their evidence have any weight in a Court of Justice ] Wisely 
and kindly did Spanish law make special provision to treat 
Natives as minors. English law made them, as the Aborigines 
said, '* neither Black nor White." They themselves had 
unwritten laws, definite and binding national customs ; yet 


by Google 


these were scorned by our rulers, who took no pains to teach 
the wild tribes any better. 

Governor Arthur, however, wrote thus in his despatch to 
the British Ministry in 1835 : — " On the first occupation of 
the colony, it seems a great oversight that a treaty was not, 
at that time, made with the l^atives, and such compensation 
given to the Chiefs as they would have deemed a fair equiva- 
lent for what they surrendered." 

When John Batman afterwards made a treaty with the 
Australians of Port Phillip, with substantial gifts as tribute, 
shouts of ridicule from authorities greeted the act 

The Aborigines are pronounced by the law of England to 
be without right or title to the land on which they had dwelt 
for ages. They are forced to be subjects of the Crown, yet 
without any rights as citizens. It was reserved for modern 
Christian civilization to advance and maintain a theory which 
ancient heathen philosophy would have declared inhuman 
and unjust. 


Sympathy has been withheld from the Tasmanians, as now 
by many from the Africans, by the plea that they belonged 
to the unimprovable races. But under what circumstances 
were any improving methods ever adopted ? 

This is not the place to speak of their origin and primitive 
condition. In the " Daily Life of the Tasmanians " the more 
scientific aspects of the question have been treated at large, 
and to that work the intelligent inquirer must be directed. 
The important argument of pre-existing civilization cannot be 
discussed in our limited space. 

Advancing, as they had done, to a knowledge of fire, and 
cooking thereby, why had they not gone further in the path 
of progress ] William Buckley was an Englishman of the 
nineteenth century, who lived for thirty-two years with the 
Australian Blacks ; these never improved from contact with 
his civilization, as he was content to sink to their level. 
Does progress, then, only come from association with a power 
able and ready to impress others ] 

Superior intelligence, unduly expressed, may be likened 


by Google 


to the light that gleamed on the face of Moses from the 
Mount, and did hut blind the astonished beholder. Our own 
immeasurable distance above the condition of the savage 
crushes him with awe and self-abasement. Then, as with ail 
lower natures, the loss of self-respect leads to drink and 

What did Government for the Blacks before the warl 
Nothing. What did colonists for the elevation of the race 1 

Then, when something was afterwards attempted, and on 
the so-called Mission settlements, only failure resulted. We 
sought to put our entire civilization upon them at once. 
They must clothe like us, eat like us, school like us, work 
like us, pray like us ; — and all at the word of command. We 
treated them as marionettes. When we pulled the string, 
they moved ; without the pull they were still. And then, 
forsooth, when they did not move of themselves, we pro- 
nounced them stupid and unimprovable. 

Where was the motive for their advance? Food and 
clothes were given them at Flinders ; why should they work 1 
A childless race they then were ; for whom should they toil ? 
The people loathed their very lives, School lessons, catechiz- 
ings in abstruse doctrines of faith, with long prayers and ser- 
mons, had no favour in their eyes. The well-meaning friends 
were shocked and disheartened at the failure ; yet, instead of 
re-casting their own methods of training — an acknowledgment 
of their lack of wisdom — they joined in the cry of utter 
hopelessness of effort. 

If there appeared no success on Flinders Island, with so 
great a display of zeal, with so liberal an allowance from the 
State, and with the Natives so completely in the power of 
the instructors, would there be the least chance of any 
progress in the wilds, with associations of the worst and 
lowest, with full exposure to the destructive fury of strong 
drink *? 

Still there were cases of success. Walter's achievements 
in literature have been already noted. A few did well under 
the forced'hed system. I have by me a sermon composed by 
one called Thomas Bruni. In that he tells his readers that 
God wrote the Ten Commandments with His finger, and that 
they were " lying at the brink of hell's dark door." An 


by Google 


ordinary English villager might not be able to compose so 
good a sermon, or so long a one. At any rate, outward 
observances on the island were hopefuL Public marriages, 
though somewhat out of date for the parties, pleased the 
guardians, and brought presents to the wedded pair. But 
the civilization was but skin deep. The learning brought no 
profit, since an educated Black always felt he was treated as 
a Nigger by the unlettered "White. 

As to religious teaching, they prattled as parrots. They 
read the Bible, they knew its history, they were skilled in 
dot(mas, yet the life was untouched. Why should more 
lofty piety be expected from them than from our own church- 
going race? If, however, exceptions prove the rule, the 
Tasmanians could feel the power of a Presence for Grood, and 
bow in heart and soul before the Invisible. Father Clark 
told me, with streaming eyes, of the happy death of some 
converts. In a letter I had, after parting from him, he thus 
referred to his work: — "Several have given testimony, in 
their own simple manner, that they knew for what purpose 
the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. One of the last 
persons who died before we left Flinders, and who for more 
than two years had been correct and well-behaved, was in the 
habit of praying regularly ; and, when suffering from disease 
which kept him awake at night, spent three nights in prayer 
when dying, and conscious he was so. His last words were, 
' Lord Jesus Christ, come and take me to Thyself.' This was 
in the hearing of the greater portion of the people who are 
yet alive. He was a good man.** 

When the missionary spirit despaired of success among the 
adults, attention was turned to the young. Lord John 
Russell said in a despatch to the Governor, ** The best chance 
of preserving the race lies in the means employed in the train- 
ing of their children.'* Sadly enough, the little ones were to 
be taken from their parents, lest example operate against the 
lesson. I saw some of these sickly, limp-looking objects at 
the Hobart Orphan School for the oflPspring of the .prisoner 
population. They stood apart from their white schoolmates, 
listless and weary. The teacher told me they could learn, 
though taking no interest in class-work. A few, a very few, 
returned to Flinders ; the rest had an early grave. 

But I knew several benevolent colonists who were civilizers. 


by Google 


Mr. T. H. Wedge pjave a pleasing story of one he rescued in 
the north-west. Never having seen Whites before, it took 
some time to quiet the fears of the wild little fellow. " I 
did not allow him," wrote my informant, " to live with or 
associate with the servants, but had him to live with me in 
my tent. He accompanied me in all my surveying excursions, 
during which he always met with the greatest kindness from 
the settlers, and was allowed to sit at their table when I 
dined with them. His conduct was always correct and well- 
behaved, and would compare favourably with most European 
boys of the same age. On one occasion, when in Hobart 
Town, he was present at a mixed party of ladies and gentle- 
men. During the evening one of the gentlemen tried to 
persuade him to kiss a young lady in the room. He hesitated, 
and said, * No good — no good,' meaning * not right.' But 
having been importuned for some time, he watched his 
opportunity, went behind the lady, and gently touched the 
neck, and then kissed his fingers. Having acquired our 
language tolerably well, I was on the point of teaching him 
to read, &c., when the severe inflammatory attack of the 
lungs carried him off. He was faithful, and became very 
attached to me." 

Mr. Dandridge, who was in charge at Oyster Cove, gave 
me some intelligence of Mathinna, a girl of singular beauty 
and mental capacity for an Aborigine. Attracting the notice 
of the benevolent and literary Lady Franklin, the child was 
removed to Government House, and carefully and kindly 
trained by her ladyship. Mathinna pursued her studies with 
diligence, and became almost accomplished. Her good looks 
suffered no deterioration by her change of life, but wei*e 
refined by education and developed by art. The age of early 
womanhood found her attractive in mind and body. But for 
whom were these charms to bud? On whom could she 
bestow her affections, and preserve her virtue ] Could she, 
who had been indulged in the drawing-room of the Governor, 
who had become used to the luxuries of civilization, be con- 
tent to be the bride of ever so handsome a Black 1 Dare she 
hope to be the mate of an Englishman whose tastes and 
education were equal to her own ? Her moral danger had 
been foreseen by her kind friends, and many a lecture had 
she received. But the wild pulses of the girl were speaking 


by Google 


too, and the very reading of her tasks had quickened the 
growth of love. When Lady Franklin went to England, 
Mathinna was sent among the Blacks, and had the squalid 
children of the tribe as her companions. With her developed 
nature, and her being cast down among the refuse of a White 
population, the consequences may be understood. In a short 
time she died at Oyster Cove, friendless and hopeless ; but 
affording another opportunity for some to deplore the de- 
pravity of human nature, and to lament mistaken kindness 
to a degraded race. 

When, in 1841, Mr. Eobert Clark brought to my house in 
Hobart Town four Tasmanian youths, my feelings of the 
prospective civilization and happiness of the race were of the 
most buoyant character. The dear lads w^ere so interesting 
and artless as to gain my heart. They were clean, cheerful, 
and intelligent. Dressed in comfortable, and even respect- 
able, European attire, with their fine open countenances, 
their languid smile, their beautiful eyes, I could not recognize 
them as the sons of degraded savages. Their replies to my 
questions were given in such correct English, they read the 
Testament so fluently, and conversed so agreeably, that I was 
ready to proclaim their civilization from the very housetop. 
But when, over twenty years after, I saw a company, consist- 
ing chiefly of dirty, ignorant, drunken, and ugly old men and 
•women, the last of the race, my sentiments changed most 
uncomfortably. I sighed for the lads that went childless to 
their graves. I thought of the dark-eyed maidens, all gone, 
after a miserable and barren life. I felt, amidst the chill of 
the present, a melancholy despondency seize me, and all 
hope of civilization for Aboriginal races seemed to die 
within me. 

The last story to be brought forward, though relating to 
an Aborigine of New South Wales, is enough to depress the 
most sanguine worker. I give it in the words of my friend 
the Eev. G. Ridley :— 

** Bungaree, who, after taking prizes at the Sydney College, 
fepeaking good Latin, and behaving as a gentleman in elegant 
society, returned to the Bush, and then entered the Black 
police, once said, in a melancholy tone, to Lieutenant Fulford 
(who repeated the remark to me at Surat on the Condamine), 
* I wish I had never been taken out of the Bush, and€d4icateU; 


by Google 


as I have been, /or I cannot he a white man ; they will never 
look upon me as one of themselves ; and / cannot he a black 
fellowj for I am disgusted with their way of living/ *' 


In taking up this painful subject — the Decline of the 
Tasmanians — ^it would be impossible to separate that fact 
from the advent of the Europeans. The Indian Cacique 
spoke of his people as melting like snow before the sun, 
when the pale faces came. Our Aborigines have not been 
suffered simply to pass off and onward before colonization, 
but have been hurried in their departure ; and this, not by 
the gifts from Egyptian impatience, but by the poison of 
contact, and the sword of destruction. 

Not able to amalgamate with the European Colonists, 
the other unfortunate condition followed — they perished. 

The Puritans of America were not alone in the belief that 
the Aborigines were a sort of Canaanitish people, who were 
doomed to be exterminated by the peculiar people. Even 
the missionary to the Blacks of New South Wales, Mr. 
Threlkeld, seems to find some comfort, in his natural astonish- 
ment at the rapid diminution of his charge, from feeling that 
it " is from the wrath of God, which is revealed from heaven 
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." He 
titters this sentiment when standing in a colony originally 
constructed out of criminals from Britain, who were rapidly 
filling the land with their prosperous descendants I 

The Tasmanians perhaps suffered less from strong drink 
than the Australians have done, because they were less 
social with the Whites* But every case 1 have examined 
into of, so-called, partial civilization has been one of misery 
from that cause. Whalers, stock-keepers, and sealers em- 
ployed that agency for the accomplishment of their purpose 
with the Black women. The " Tame Mob " that hung about 
Hobart Town in early times were dissolute and drunken, 
The unhappy remnant at Oyster Cove deplored their exposure 
to that curse; and, while declaring their passion for th© 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


excitement, spoke feelingly of the cruelty of subjecting them 
to its temptation. 

Dr. Jeanneret thus wrote to me of their decline on 
Flinders : — " This was, perhaps, unavoidable under so sudden 
a change, from a life of hazard to one of comparative indo- 
lence, without precautions which experience alone could 
indicate. Many of them were aged. Several still suffered 
from the effects of their wounds, and few were prepared to 
adopt the means of graduating their exchanged position. 
The temporary necessity of resorting to a diet of salt pro- 
visions might also possibly operate prejudicially.'* He 
speaks of a pseudo-civilization ** increasing an inherent tend- 
ency to pulmonary and inflammatory affections." What 
they suffered from imported diseases, as syphilis, who can 

One prominent exponent of their decline was the absence 
of children. From inquiry of the nine women at Oyster 
Cove, I learned that only two of them had ever had a child. 
One of the two had one child, and the other two children ; 
all had died many years ago. Upon my expressing my 
surprise, one said, with a burst of laughter, "What good hab 
him piccaninny ] *' Another, with better taste remarked, 
** What por? blackfellow, him all die." 

But some, struck with the non-fertility of Australian and 
Tasmanian women, have supposed that some mysterious 
effect was produced by their intercourse with white men. 
Count Strzelecki advanced this theory respecting the dark- 
skinned female : " She loses the powers of conception, on a 
renewal of intercourse with a male of her own race, retaining 
only that of procreating with the white man." 

Whatever the exceptions, births with Blacks, after inter- 
course with Whites, were, as a rule, unknown. While 
travelling through the volcanic country of Mount Gambier, 
I heard of an instance of a woman bearing a child to a young 
Black, after she had been delivered of two half-castes. Other 
examples have been mentioned to me. Addressing the Kev. 
Mr. Ridley upon the question, as he had had great experi- 
ence among the Natives of New South Wales, he answers 
me, ** In all parts I have heard it said that black children are 
never bom of mothers who have given birth to half-castes." 
Dr. Milligan mentions an instance to the contrary — a 

P 3 


by Google 


woraan then at Oyster Cove, who bore black offspring after 
half-castes. Dr. Jeanneret assured me that he doubted the 
Count's notion. 

To my interrogative of **. Why did they cease having 
children V* 1 received the following reply from Dr. Story, 
of Swanport : — " The deaths at Flinders Island, and the 
attempts at civilizing the Natives, were consequent on each 
Other. If left to themselves, to roam as they were wont, and 
undisturbed, they would have reared more children, and 
there would have been less mortality. The change to Flinders 
induced or developed an apathic condition of the constitution, 
rendering them more susceptible of the heats and chills 
attendant on their corrobories, inducing a peculiar disease in 
the thoracic viscera." 

Mr. Solly, then Assistant Colonial Secretary, showed what 
like causes produced in Australia, saying, " Many of these 
poor black women used to prostitute themselves for clothes, 
tobacco, or * white money,' and, in such cases, I question 
whether they would bear children any more than white 

There is another side of this question. The female is not 
alone in defective virility. There never was a difficulty 
about children with Whites, even when black children in 
Tasmania were almost unknown. A case in Victoria may 
bear upon the subject. Thirty years ago I knew a native 
who was knocldng about the settled districts, having a wife, 
but being childless. Then he was often intoxicated. After 
a long time I saw him again, both healthy and happy. He 
was under good influence, had kept away from town life, and 
was then working quietly upon his little bit of ground. He 
had regained his vigour, and with great glee held up a fine 
black child, that he took from its black mother, and claimed 
for his own. 

Our Tasmanians suffered from heart sickness and home 
sickness. Mr. R. H. Davis, in his interesting notice, refers 
to their residence on Flinders, "where," says he, "they have 
been treated with uniform kindness ; nevertheless, the births 
have been few, and the deaths numerous. This may have 
been in a great measure owing to their change of Jiving and 
food ; but more so to their banishment from the mainland of 
Van Diemen's Land, which is visible from Flinders Island ; 


by Google 


and the Natives have eften pointed it out to me with 
expressions of the deepest sorrow depicted on their counten- 
ances." Dr. Barnes was conscious of the same antagonism 
to his medical treatment, saying, " They pine away, not from 
any positive diseeise, but from a disease they call * home 
sickness.' They die from a disease of the stomach, which 
comes on entirely from a desire to return to their own 
country." When the poor gin, with eager look and pointing 
finger, asked a gentleman if he saw the white, snowy crest of, 
the towering Ben Lomond, then just looming in the distance, 
the tears rolled down her swarthy cheeks, as she exclaimed, 
" That-me-counfcry." 

When Governor Arthur wrote home about the terrible 
decline of the Tasmanians, even before the great conflict of 
the Line, and subsequent battle strife. Sir George Murray 
thus replied in a despatch, dated JN'ov. 5, 1830 : — 

**The great decrease which has of late years taken place 
in the amount of the aboriginal population, renders it not 
unreasonable to apprehend that the whole race of these 
people may, at no distant period, become extinct. But with 
whatever feelings such an event may be looked forward to 
by those of the settlers who have been sufferers by the 
collisions which have taken place, it is impossible not to 
contemplate such a result of our occupation of the island, 
as one very difficult to be reconciled with feelings of human- 
ity, or even with feelings of justice and sound policy ; and 
the adoption of any line of conduct, having for its avowed 
or secret object the extinction of the native race, could not 
fail to leave an indelible stain upon the British Govern- 

It was too late to attend to the benevolent cry of Lord 
Glenelg, " Rescue the remnant I " It is noticed in the glens 
of Tasmania that the beautiful Exocarjms, or native cherry- 
tree, flourishes best beneath the shade of other forest forms. 
When the axe lowers its tall and graceful companions, it 
begins to sicken, as though bemoaning the loss of sympathy, 
and gradually decays. Thus was it with the Natives. The 
departure of some let the sun in too rudely upon the others, 
and they shrank in their sensitive natures, hastening to the 
shade of the tomb. 

When I was at Oyster Cove I could not avoid, when 


by Google 


rambling through the Bush with King Walter George Arthur, 
asking a question bearing upon the departure of his people. 
I repented of my curiosity. His face became suddenly 
clouded, his eyes lost their lustre, his mouth twitched 
nervously at the side, he sighed deeply, and his very body 
seemed to bend forward. He slowly turned himself round, 
but said nothing. He looked like one oppressed with secret 
and consuming grief — as one without hope. He had no 
child. All his dark friends were childless, and were silently 
leaving him on the strand alone. 

Notice after notice appears in the Hobart Town papers of 
the departure of the few I saw at Oyster Cove. Poor Patty 
died early in 1867. Wapperty was then dying, leaving but 
two others of the sisterhood alive. The last of the Straits 
Aborigines, known as Mrs. Julia Mansell, died in July 1867, 
on Sea Lion Island. She was sixty years of age. Her large 
family of half-castes were scattered through the group of 
islands. Her sealer husband, now sixty-four, survives his 
aboriginal partner. Walter has gone, and Maryann, his 
intelligent wife, has gone also. 

One man remained, William Lann6. In October, 1864, 
the Hohart Town Mercwy -had this paragraph : — " At the 
last ball at Government House, Hobart Town, there appeared 
the last male aboriginal inhabitant of Tasmania." 

How expressive, as applied to such a man, is the language 
of the talented and estimable Mr. Westgarth : — 

" Behold him a wandering outcast ; existing, apparently, 
without motives and without object ; a burden to himself, a 
useless encumberer of the ground I Does he not seem pre- 
eminently a special mystery in the designs of Providence, 
an excrescence, as it were, upon the smooth face of nature, 
which is excused and abated only by the resistless haste 
with which he disappears from the land of his fore- 

When I went over on a visit to Hobart Town in 1867, 
William Lanney had just returned from a whaling voyage. 
Truganina had mentioned his being a sailor, when talking 
to me about "him such a fine young man." I therefore 
sought him. Once I caught sight of him, but he was too 
drunk to talk with. My friend Mr. Woolley then gave mo 


by Google 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 






* ''"^^ 


one of his excellent photographs of the poor fellow, a copy 
of which appears in this work. 

\Villiam Lanney, Lanny, or Lann^ cdia^ King Billy, the 
last man of the Tasmanian Aborigines, was, singularly enough, 
the last child of the last family brought from the island. 
He afterwards sojourned with his own people at Oyster 
Cove. Contracting an acquaintance with boatmen and sailors, 
he became a whaler, and for years sailed from Hobart Town. 
Jolly in habits, as well as in appearance, he was always a 
favourite with his fellow-seamen, and was received with 
enthusiasm by the old ladies of the settlement whenever he 
paid them a visit. As the youngest and handsomest of their 
tribes, they were loud in their praises of him to me. In 
January, 1868, clad in a blue suit, with a gold-lace band 
round his cap, he walked proudly with Prince Alfred, Duke 
of Edinburgh, on the Hobart Town regatta ground, conscious 
that they alone were in possession of royal blood. 

A couple of months after this Lann^ went whaling again. 
He returned in February of 1869, bloat-ed and unhealthy. 
For several days he complained of sickness. On the Friday 
he was suddenly seized with choleraic diarrhoea, and his 
system, worn out with dissipation, was unable to bear up 
against the attack. The following day, March 3rd, he at- 
tempted to dress himself, with a view of proceeding to 
the hospital for treatment, but the exertion overcame him, 
and he fell dead on the bed. He was but thirty-four 
years of age. 

The scandal attending his funeral, and the disappearance 
of his head from the hospital, though fully detailed in the 
** Last of the Tasmanians," cannot be repeated here. Dr. 
Crowther vainly applied to the Government for permission 
to send the skeleton to the London Eoyal College of 

The last of her race, Truganina, or Lalla Eookh, has now 
gone after the Last Man. She died in May, 1876, and was 
supposed seventy-three years old. 

The woolly-haired Tasmanian no longer sings blithely on 
the Gum-tree Tiers, or twines the snowy Clematis blossom 
for a bridal garland. Our awakened interest in his condition 
comes too late. The bell but tolls his knell, and the jEolian 


by Google 

e^-f. V'-' cS 



music of the She-oak is now his requiem. "We cover our 
faces while the deep and solemn voice of our common Father 
echoes through the soul, " Where is thy brother?" 

Oh ! if he were here, how kindly would we speak to him ! 
Would wo not smile upon that dark sister of the forest, and 
joy in the pmttle of that piccaninny boy ! But now the 
burden of each saddened spirit is, 

Would I had loved him more I 


Clay and Taylor, Frmttrs, Bungay, H^ffolk, 


Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

M. DE QuATREFAGES, the distinguished French anthro- 
pologist, has been recently pleased, in his Hommes Fossiles et 
Hommes Sauvages^ to bear the following testimony to the value 
of the author's Tasmanian works : — 

" It is evidently under the influence of these sentiments {fity 
for the Blacks) that Bonwick has taken the pen. He has com- 
prehended all that was strange and sorrowful in the story of the 
Tasmanians. Son of the triumphant race, he appears to have 
done his duty in collecting the information most worthy of 
belief upon the Lost Race, with the object of making it Hve 
again, at least for men of science. He has spared for it neither 
time nor trouble. Inspector of Schools for the Province of 
Victoria, he has consulted Governmental archives, public and 
private collections ; but, above all, he has gone over hills and 
dales in order to question the half vagabond convict as well as 
the peaceful colonist, that he n^ight awaken their memories, and 
recover forgotten or ignored details upon the earliest times of 
the colony. Moreover, on several occasions, he has visited the 
last and rare survivors of the Tasmanian population, and veri- 
fied near them the information collected elsewhere. /It is thus 
he has combined the materials for two works. The one has 
for its object the knowledge of the Tasmanian race. The other 
recounts the extermination of that race." 

Vindicating the author from the charges brought against him 
by an ex-official of the island, of having unjustly censured the 
European settlers of Tasmania, M. de Quatrefages declares that 

the author " replies only too well to the assertions of ." 

He regards another writer as "always ready to believe the 
worst when it is told against the Aborigines." He is pleased 
thus to confirm the historical accuracy of the work on the Last 
of the Tasmanians : — 

" The language of the contemporary Press, the terms of the 
proclamations published by the Colonial authorities, attest that 
in the main the Whites were alone to blame." 

M. de Quatrefages, in the course of his last scientific work 
of 640 pages, has quoted the English author over a hundred 

J. B. 

Digitized by VjOOQ IC 


by Google 

Digitized by VjOOQLC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

Digitized by V3OOQ IC 

OCJ^Ut. B U4 L 

TIk' Icist'.in T^4.r 

Tozz«r Librsry Ali^4l| 

; 3 2044 043 157 98 ll 


Digitized by V3OOQ IC